As consumers continue to check items off their shopping lists, the Better Business Bureau encourages them to keep small businesses in mind as the place to shop. COVID-19 has had the largest impact on small, local businesses, so this holiday season is the perfect time to show your support.
Some businesses are closing their doors or limiting their capacity in order to help keep their employees safe, but the loss of income can make it difficult for businesses to survive. Here’s where you can help!
Here are some practical tips to help you support your favorite local business this season:
• Shop (local) online: Local shops and vendors may have closed their physical doors, but many still run online shops. Look for them on social media or check the business’s website for links to their online marketplace.
• Buy a gift card: Many small businesses that have had to close or reduce services are offering gift certificates at discounted prices to use when they reopen. Check business websites and social accounts for any deals.
• Look for virtual classes: People who work in training or professional development are finding creative ways to move their instruction online. Even though your local gym is closed, your favorite yoga teacher may be hosting a live class online. Same goes for people who offer professional trainings like consultants who offers public speaking classes. Now may be a good time to brush up on your skills with an online course.
• Eat small, too! Many people think that shopping at local retail stores is the only way to “Shop Local.” But, locally owned restaurants, bakeries and coffee shops would love to invite new customers into their shops, too. Many are offering takeout specials, so you can support these local establishments by getting your food or drinks to-go and enjoying it (safely) at home.
• Know a shut-in who has not gotten out? How about taking a meal from a local restaurant to them?
• Skip the refund or take a rain check: If you paid in advance for an event, such as theater or concert tickets, a class or a service, consider taking a credit for the future instead of asking for a refund. These event-based businesses will appreciate not needing to issue so many refunds right now.
If your own wallet is feeling the pinch, here are a few free ways to support small businesses:
• Write an online review: This is a good time to finally get around to reviewing your favorite local business. These five-star reviews do help companies rank well in search engines and on other listing services, and it is an easy, free way to show your favorite businesses that you support them. Write a review on BBB.org now.
• Like and share on social media: Help your favorite business reach a broader audience by liking and sharing their information on social media. This will help them reach future customers and gain more exposure during and after the pandemic.
• Tell your businesses you appreciate their work: These are tough times! Keep morale up by reaching out to the businesses in your community and letting them know that you appreciate their hard work. They’ll likely appreciate the love – and it will make you feel good, too!
• Remember: Everyone is stressed. So are business owners and their staffs. Be kind.
Marjorie Stephens is president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Northern Indiana. Contact the BBB at 800-552-4631 or visit www.bbb.org.