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How to support your favorite small businesses and keep a healthy social distance

To halt the rapid spread of the coronavirus, communities everywhere are locking down, closing up and staying in. The unfortunate side effect is economic disruption, felt from the corner offices of global giants to the small shop around the corner in your neighborhood.

We do not need to wait for the coronavirus to vanish or for mightier financial muscles than ours to hoist world markets back on track. We can act now to lift the economic prospects of our own local small businesses.

Support from your house

1. Shop local, shop online. These days, even the smallest business is likely to have its own website. Many offer the option to purchase online. Being cloistered in your own home presents a prime opportunity to get a jump on shopping for anniversaries, birthdays, Christmas — and even a reward or two for yourself. Books, handcrafted jewelry, art glass and gourmet chocolates easily spring to mind.

2. Give gift cards and certificates. Buying a gift card generates income for the business today, when it is most needed. The person who receives the card may be able to redeem it when businesses reopen or apply it toward a purchase online.

3. Look for virtual options. Some shops, gyms and other venues offer video or other online access to products or services.

Support from your car

4. Pick up take out. Although indoor dining is closed, many state restrictions still allow businesses to offer drive-through, curbside pickup or even home deliveries. That applies to essential businesses such as restaurants, grocery stores and pharmacies. Remember to tip generously.

Support from your heart

5. Share a positive recommendation. That family restaurant, tailor shop or print house is your favorite for a reason. Tell others what makes the place so special, whether it is the made-from-scratch biscuits, the artful alterations that transform the look of your outfit, or the knowledgeable staff that recommend the perfect paper for the job. Share your reviews on social media. Encourage others to lend their support or visit when it reopens, or just say “thank you” to the owner and staff.

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