Indiana and Michigan have issued stay-at-home orders to stop the spread of the coronavirus, ensuring that people will maintain the social distance necessary to protect individuals and the health-care system. But there is an economic cost, felt most acutely by small businesses and their employees who rely on a steady stream of customers to make ends meet. For those who have the means, there are ways to support local businesses even when we can't visit their brick-and-mortar locations.
BUY GIFT CARDS
Businesses need cash flow right now, and the easiest way to help them is to buy a few gift cards to use down the road. Many shops are offering gift card bonuses right now, so treat yourself — even better, treat someone else.
Consider stocking up on cards from coffee shops, yoga studios and bookstores. Many are getting their holiday shopping done now when they have extra time — and when it can benefit struggling small businesses most.
SHOP LOCAL ONLINE
Instead of placing an order with a national chain, order food online from local independent grocer — many offer same-day delivery.
Or that painting you’ve been eyeing for your mantel from a local gallery? Now’s the time to order it. Indie bookstores and record stores need support too. Although they may be closed to in-person customers, many offer free shipping and local deliveries.
KEEP PAYING PEOPLE
Just because you’ve canceled the piano lessons and sent the housekeeper and tutors away doesn’t mean you should stop paying them. Online services like Venmo or Pay Pal provide easy ways to pay, bypassing the need for cash or checks.
SKIP THE REFUND
If you missed a local show that you had tickets for, chalk it up as a donation instead of asking for your money back. Now’s also a great time to sign up for that membership to a nonprofit arts association or subscribe to an upcoming theater series.
SCHEDULE A SERVICE FOR LATER
If you can, schedule work with a cleaner, a painter, a plumber, a contractor or a salon. Simply knowing that there will be work ahead can help reduce anxiety over cancellations and ease uncertainty about the future.
Together we can support small businesses, the lifeblood of our communities.