Thousands of businesses across Canada are feeling the financial strain of the coronavirus after closing their doors to uphold social distancing practices. For small business owners suddenly deprived of customers, any support from the local community can spell the difference between surviving the pandemic and closing their doors forever.
Here are some ways you can help support small businesses during this trying time.
While some local restaurants have opted to close their doors to weather the outbreak, many restaurants are offering delivery and pickup, but check for delivery options at places other than restaurants. Your local hardware store, flower shop, bookstore or clothing boutique may not have their usual storefront, but many are providing delivery or curbside pickup.
Buy gift cards
Purchasing a gift card to your favourite shop, theatre or restaurant is an immediate way to put cash into a business. Gift cards can go toward helping cash flow in these uncertain times.
See if local studios are offering video classes
Quarantine life can get dull. Check out local exercise studios to see if they are offering live stream classes. You can also hire a financial planner, therapist, tax accountant, personal trainer, or music teacher right now ― they’re all providing services online.
Leave good reviews
A word of support can also go a long way for stressed-out business owners. Go online to post positive reviews. Reach out by social media, e-mail, phone call, or whatever mechanism you have to tell them that you support them and when all of this is over, you’ll be there at their door.
Now might be a good time for home projects or repairs
If you’ve been meaning to put up a fence, do a bit of landscaping, replace some windows or tackle any other project that doesn’t take more than a few people to complete, find a local handyman or service to help. On-site auto mechanics are also available if you need them.
Tip extra generously, if you can
Delivery workers are especially vulnerable to contracting coronavirus, given the nature of their work. If you can afford to tip 40% or even more, delivery workers would appreciate it. And if you’re worried about coming face to face with the delivery worker, ask them to put the bag on your front doorstep instead.
Share your knowledge via Social Media
If you learn of a unique promotion or idea from a local business, share it online. Businesses are providing decorating and baking kits for kids and their parents, with curbside pickup. Because local businesses usually don’t have huge marketing efforts, their customers can help spread the word through social media.
With much more free time than usual, use that time to be creative. Start an online contest / drawing for local business gift cards and services and promote it online and on social media. Each week, draw a winner and share the results.
Just how long these small businesses will have to scale back operations is unclear, but ultimately it’s going to be up to us, the local communities, and customers, to support them. Please do your part and stay safe.