How I'm Supporting Small Businesses During the Coronavirus Crisis

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One writer is doing her part to help ensure that her favorite local businesses survive the pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has battered the U.S. economy as a whole, but small businesses have perhaps been hurt the worst. Losing out on months of revenue could easily drive an otherwise thriving establishment into extinction as they don't have the same access to capital as larger companies or chains. In fact, as of mid-May, over 100,000 small businesses had already closed permanently. There's a good chance more will shutter by the time 2020 comes to an end.

But I don't want my community to lose its small businesses. For one thing, the more thriving businesses we have, the more it helps home values stay healthy. Secondly, I like having the option to shop or eat locally rather than have to drive 30 minutes to buy shoes or eat Thai food. That's why I've been trying to support the small businesses in my area during these difficult times. Here are a few specific ways you can do the same.

1. Talk them up

I don't have unlimited funds to spend at local businesses, and during the pandemic, I've been trying to spend more conservatively. But it doesn't cost a dime to simply encourage other people to frequent them. When I have a good experience with a business in my neck of the woods, I'll text friends about it or share it on social media. And I've made a point to write positive reviews for local restaurants on Yelp. That way, foodies may be inspired to venture over to my town to check out some of the hole-in-the-wall places.

2. Buy gift cards for myself and others to use

Though birthday parties have largely been canceled during COVID-19, birthday presents have not. I've still been giving gifts to my kids' friends and my own friends. But instead of ordering random stuff on Amazon, I've bought gift cards to businesses in the area. There's a local toy store in town that I know is desperate for customers, so I've given out their gift cards left and right. I've also purchased some of those gift cards for myself -- I figure birthday parties will resume eventually, and I'll use them then. In the meantime, I'm giving that store some cash so it can keep its doors open.

3. Shop at local grocers and markets when possible

My area has a couple of major supermarkets, and I used to shop at those pretty often because it was an efficient way to load up on groceries. But these days, I buy as much as possible from smaller grocers and farmers markets. With the latter, I get fresher produce and while it sometimes means I spend more on certain items, I feel good about the quality I'm getting. Plus of course, I'm helping to keep these places open.

The coronavirus has changed our lives in so many ways, and I've definitely padded my savings account in response to the uncertainty. But supporting local businesses doesn't have to cost a fortune, and spending locally may help protect my local area.

Small businesses are good for communities. They create local jobs and keep property values strong. I realize that some may not survive the pandemic, but my hope is that the places I've come to know and love will still be here once things get back to normal. That's why I want to do my part to support them.

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