A few weeks ago, you might have been catching up with a friend at your favourite coffee shop, or planning a night out: dinner at that bistro around the corner, followed by drinks at a downtown brewery. Now we’re faced with an entirely different set of options, not only to pass the time, but where to shop, as many establishments have made the difficult decision to shut down and protect their employees and customers due to COVID-19. One thing is certain – it’s impossible to deny how much we miss our routines and the influence local businesses have on it.
Small businesses make up 98% of the total business community here in New Brunswick. Supporting them means supporting your home, ensuring more money stays within the province. That’s because small businesses not only help to grow our employment opportunities, they are huge contributors to our vibrant communities, from the donations they make for sports teams and fundraisers, to the friendly faces and services we rely on and look forward to that make up our daily lives.
But because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many have been forced to significantly reduce services and hours of operations, or have closed down entirely. Without cash flow to pay their bills, some may not have the opportunity to re-open when all this passes.
But there’s a chance we can help them avoid that, so let’s do our part to show them some love and support them during these uncertain and difficult times.
HOW YOU CAN SUPPORT LOCAL RIGHT NOW
Businesses are finding inventive ways to keep employees and customers safe so that we can continue to rely on them during these unprecedented times.
But there are also other ways YOU can continue to support your favourite local businesses right now and do so safely.
HERE ARE JUST A FEW IDEAS:
CALL AHEAD Avoid unnecessary exposure (and a trip) by calling ahead to see if the item you are looking for is in stock.
SHOP ONLINE Many local shops are still operating their online stores and some are offering discounts on merchandise or shipping to incentive sales. Take advantage of this and help them continue to do what they love and keep sales steady.
ORDER TAKEOUT OR DELIVERY Many cafes and restaurants are setting up systems to enable curbside pick-up, at-home delivery or promoting social distancing when you arrive for pick-up. Find out what your favourite place is doing and treat yourself – it saves you some dishes and means more to that business than you know.
SHOP LOCAL FIRST Shop local markets, stores, and pharmacies before resorting to chains. Larger corporations have the ability to off-set financial losses in ways small businesses simply cannot. If you need essentials, make some calls to see who has what you need and support small first.
PRE-ORDER Help small businesses move inventory and keep income steady by pre-ordering new products. When they arrive, you can work out a delivery plan that works best for everyone and you just helped a small business!
BUY GIFT CARDS TO USE LATER Not only does this give local businesses cash flow when in-store sales aren’t possible (increasing the likelihood that they WILL be able to re-open when all this passes), but who doesn’t love gift cards? Use them for yourself or keep them handy for birthdays, special occasions or ‘just because’ nights out – and keep the love of local going.
MAKE A DEPOSIT Aestheticians, hairdressers and other cosmetology professionals are often self-employed. Without access to EI benefits, many will struggle during this time. One way to help lessen the financial strain until the new government compensation programs come into effect, is to offer them a deposit towards your next appointment. You can also sign this petition to help create a future financial assistance program for those in this or similar situations.
KEEP YOUR MEMBERSHIPS ACTIVE Peace of mind and protecting our health is of the utmost importance right now. And gyms, yoga and dance studios, and fitness clubs are finding clever ways to host classes online via social media so you can still take part and keep active (or meditate) from the comfort of your home. So keep paying for your memberships, those business owners count on the income from monthly memberships. Supporting them through while taking advantage of their digital classes could mean seeing them on the other side of this.
SEND THEM AN E-TRANSFER
Think of this no differently than you would a charitable donation. Someone is in need, someone you KNOW, and anything you can contribute would help. A quick private message on social media to get their email and you’re done! You could even do a group collection from friends and family and send it to your favourite business as a way of saying ‘Thanks’ for the great service, food, coffee – whatever. If you’re able to spread the wealth, please do so. We love our local businesses and want them to come back after this.
SHARE THE LOVE ON SOCIAL MEDIA
We understand that business closures affect us all, and that money may be tight for many right now as a result – not just business owners. So how can you help? Take to social media and share your heart out! It costs NOTHING to:
- Share their posts to help get the word out about their promotions, products or services.
- Tag friends and family members who CAN take advantage of their offers, whether it’s a sale or delivery option.
- Send them a message to find out how you can support them if they are closed and don’t have an online store – and tell others about it. Some may just need some cleaning supplies to keep their store safe, for others, a message to hear about how much you love their business could make their day.
Throughout all of this, please remember:
BE KIND. BE PATIENT. BE SAFE. We are all doing whatever we can to get through this… together.
WHEN THIS PASSES, THINK LOCAL FIRST
As things slowly start to return to normal, we encourage you to continue to support local businesses as much as possible. Our support in helping them to rebuild will be as vital as ever. Here are some ways you can do that:
- Shop at your local markets to support makers and farmers.
- Plan a night out with family or friends at a local brewery or restaurant.
- Host your next business meeting at a local coffee shop.
- Buy gifts made by local artisans.
- Attend shows featuring local performers and musicians.
- Plan a staycation and spend a long weekend at one of our B&Bs or boutique hotels, camp in our provincial parks, or for an extra unique experience, go glamping in a dome or treehouse!
And businesses: Remember to get your ingredients, office supplies, or other business needs locally as well.
Together, we can help New Brunswick, and all its people, thrive once more.
Have an idea for supporting a local business that wasn’t mentioned here? Reach out and we can share it on social media to help get the word out!
Contact us – firstname.lastname@example.org