As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, the impact on individuals and society continues to grow. While it’s not yet possible to quantify the full fallout of this impact, small, local businesses are already feeling the crunch. Restrictions and closures have already either severely limited or totally curtailed your favourite shop’s ability to make money.
While some salaried workers can work from home and receive their full pay along with benefits, this is often not an option for local business owners and employees. To find out what we can be doing to support our favourite local spots, we spoke with small business owner Elektra Simms, of Morning Parade Coffee Bar.
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Understand what your support means
Local businesses serve as anchors to our communities. They add character and personality, help build community relationships, and offer a more personalized experience than their big box alternatives. By supporting your local businesses at this time, “you can help your favourite spot keep their staff longer, and ensure their ability to reopen when the pandemic allows it,” says Elektra. “Employees of small businesses do not have a regular salary or health benefits, and have been among the first to be laid off due to business closures,” she adds. Business owners too only get paid if their business is earning money, and they are often reliant on these salaries not only to pay rent or mortgage on their home but also on their business.
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Choose local, when possible
When you are looking to purchase something, “Seek out small businesses in your neighbourhood that are able to safely continue operating,” suggests Elektra.
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Order goods or services by phone or online
Purchase goods online for delivery or pick up. Some businesses, such as local gyms and studios are also leading digital workout sessions, coaching or classes. If your finances allow it, you can show your support for your favourite spots and the community by continuing to participate from home, and pay for these services (many offer discounted rates during the pandemic). Not only are you doing something for your physical and mental wellbeing, you’re also helping the business continue running.
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Opt for takeout or delivery
“Frequent small food establishments still offering take-out / delivery,” offers Elektra. Many restaurants and shops are continuing limited operations during this time, and ordering takeout and delivery not only gives you a ready-made meal-choice, it allows you to contribute to business’ earnings during this difficult time.
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Go the gift card route
Another way to show your support is to purchase gift cards to be redeemed either now or when businesses resume. You can gift these, and some even offer digital GCs, eliminating the need to leave your home, or to handle and transfer plastic.
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Spread the love
Give your favourite local business a shout out: “Amplify your favourite businesses via social media, either by reposting their content or creating your own.”
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Leave positive reviews
If you haven’t done so already, leave a positive review for the business on whatever platforms they appear listed. This way you point others to local spots that are worth checking out.
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Separate but together
You can also examine issues at the core of the challenge facing small businesses more closely. Elektra recommends signing petitions and supporting where you can when business owners are lobbying for additional support.
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Reach out and ask how you can help
Small businesses vary in their needs, so another great way to show your support is to simply reach out to ask what would be most meaningful to them.
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Go big and reach out to decision-makers
“You can also help to promote support for small businesses at the municipal and provincial level. Reach out to your local City Councillor or MP and ask what is being done to support small business.”