With the ongoing pandemic, communities and small businesses throughout the United States – and the world – are experiencing a unique holiday season. Businesses, specifically, are taking many precautions to protect the health of their staff and customers and help stop the spread of COVID-19 in their communities.
With these unprecedented circumstances, it is more vital than ever to support West Virginia’s small businesses. So, we must adjust to this “new normal” and make it a point to shop local on Small Business Saturday, throughout the holiday season and beyond. Here are several ways to show your support and help the beloved small businesses in your communities through this trying time.
Follow health guidelines
If you will be shopping in-person and visiting small businesses, it is very important that all health guidelines are followed. Wear a face covering. Not only is this the respectful thing to do for small business owners and other shoppers, but an Executive Order is also in place in West Virginia that requires a face covering to be worn at all times in all public indoor places. Wash your hands often and have sanitizer handy for frequent use. Furthermore, shoppers should avoid crowded places and maintain a physical distance of at least six feet from other customers and store personnel.
If you’re not feeling well, no matter the symptoms, it’s best to stay home and shop online as an alternative.
A “face covering toolkit” with signage for businesses is also available here.
Support from home
1. Shop online.
Many small businesses now sell their products online, whether through their own websites or an ecommerce site like etsy.com. Most likely, the same items available in a storefront are also available for purchase online. Explore these websites and choose to have gifts delivered rather than purchasing them in-person. The experience may be different, but the impact is the same, or better. This extra effort to check for online shopping could make a small business’s holiday season successful.
2. Purchase gift cards.
Not sure what to get but still want to buy from a local business? Go with a gift card or gift certificate! This option allows you to generate income for the business and provides flexibility for future purchases. Your loved ones will have the opportunity to choose something they really love, and they’ll most likely be able to make this decision online. It’s a win-win solution.
3. Order food for delivery or pickup.
Supporting local businesses is not limited to storefronts and boutiques. We also need to continue showing up for our local restaurants. Check to see if the local restaurants in your community offer delivery or pick-up takeout options. The convenience of getting dinner from a restaurant instead of cooking at home is still available and ordering food for delivery or pick-up is likely the safest option during the pandemic. Many local eateries can be found on popular food delivery services like grubhub.com or orderup.com. If these sites are not available where you live, check for delivery or pick-up options on the restaurants’ websites and/or social media pages, or give them a call.
4. Utilize virtual services.
In some cases, the events and classes you once attended regularly, are no longer available in-person due to COVID-19 health guidelines. However, these businesses may have pivoted to offer their services virtually. Check out their websites and social media pages to see if any online classes/webinars are now available, and if so, attend them!
You should also follow the small businesses in your community on social media. As they post updates and content, engage with them by liking/reacting to their posts, leaving kind comments and sharing to your own page to extend their reach.
5. Leave positive reviews and recommendations.
Here’s one final way to show small businesses some love from afar. Take five minutes out of your day to leave kind reviews for your favorite, local spots. Leave them “five stars” on Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor, etc. with a brief message expressing why they’re great. Additionally, you can recommend businesses on social media. These are easy ways to show your support and actually help the businesses long-term. It’s essentially word-of-mouth marketing in an online format. The more positive reviews a business has, the more likely they’ll gain new customers.