Support local: Why small businesses in your community need you during COVID-19
While we all hoped it wouldn’t happen, we knew it was a possibility. The impacts of COVID-19 have required Manitobans and local businesses to enter various levels of restrictions, bringing new challenges to overcome. But by working together and supporting our friends, family, communities and local businesses, we can persevere—especially through the holidays.
While the festive season is more often reserved for happiness and good cheer, for the small business community, the pressure may be turned on high this year. Many business owners are now dealing with cash flow, staffing, inventory and sales issues, struggling to keep their doors open—whether that be brick-and-mortar or online.
As consumers, we can play our part and help them battle through the ongoing pandemic. During these holidays, there are many creative ways you can support local businesses even when you have to practice social distancing.
8 ways to support local businesses during the holidays
Local businesses are extremely important for our economies. Not only do they create jobs and encourage entrepreneurship, but they also bring a lot of growth and innovation.
They also tend to care more about their community. That’s because the people running small businesses are your neighbours, friends, and sometimes even your family members. When you go into their store, they greet you by your name and offer a unique and personalized shopping experience.
Yet today, many of your favourite local vendors are experiencing a lot of financial strain. With limited resources and government support that can only take you so far, business owners and entrepreneurs are worried about their future—and if they’ll be able to survive a winter of restrictions.
Instead of panic-buying toilet paper, get a head start on holiday gift shopping for your family and friends with these eight ways to support local businesses:
1. Think of small local businesses first
Whether you’re getting into the gift-giving spirit, buying holiday decorations or searching for deals, you can help small businesses in your community by choosing to shop with them instead of big brands or retailers. Next time, before you order something from Amazon, check to see if a local vendor carries the item that you’re willing to purchase.
2. Ask local shops for delivery
You can ask stores you frequently shop at if they are willing to offer delivery during the holiday season. Think of toy stores, florists or any other local mom and pop shop that can use your support. You can use this opportunity to have gifts delivered to friends and family outside your bubble, and give them a nice surprise—even from a distance.
3. Celebrate the holidays with a tasty restaurant
Depending on the rules in place, you may be able to enjoy a special meal at your preferred restaurant. Although there may be limited indoor capacity and a maximum number of guests per table, treating your ‘bubble’ for a special holiday meal is a nice change of pace. However, if indoor dining is restricted then order takeout, put on music, and set the atmosphere in your dining room table with a fun holiday theme. With months of the ‘same old thing,’ everyone will appreciate the effort, and your local restaurant will be thankful for the support.
4. Buy gift cards
Small businesses need cash flow, and the best way to help them is to buy gift cards. They’re practical and take the pressure off you to find the perfect present. You can also donate them to local charities or someone you know who is in need.
5. Gift swaps featuring finds from local shops
If you’re exchanging gifts at work with your coworkers, make it a fun rule to buy from local stores only. You can even encourage your colleagues to each provide a few local vendors they love, so the colleagues who draws their name has a head start on where to shop. Also, if your coworkers live outside of your neighbourhood, this is a great way to support economies outside your regular footprint!
6. Use social media
Everyone agrees that social media is a powerful tool for communication and marketing. And small businesses couldn’t ask for a better gift than some free advertising from their customers. Consider sharing promos and products or services from your local vendors with your personal social media network, encouraging others to buy local this year for the holidays.
7. Just ask
Ask your local vendors if they’ve adapted to the new normal and offer any special services or products. If you have a limited budget yourself and can’t spend a lot on buying products or services, you can also ask them if there are other ways to help. They might ask you to leave them a Google review as a previous satisfied customer, if you haven’t already done so.
8. Be generous
Tips are always appreciated by service workers, but right now it can make all the difference in the world for them. Next time you have something delivered at home or order food from a delivery app, don’t forget to tip a little extra if your budget allows for it.
You can also show support without spending much money. Be generous to local vendors or service workers by offering them donations or small gifts (i.e. hand sanitizers or masks/gloves) as a token of appreciation. You can also volunteer some time or your skills to businesses that might need an extra hand this holiday season. For example, if you’re a graphic designer, you can help by creating an eye-catching flyer or digital marketing material.
Stay financially festive this holiday season with ACU
Whether or not you run your own business, this may also be a time of year that you’re working through financial shifts and challenges. As we’ve probably all experienced, holiday shopping can be a time when we spend more money than expected. For advice and support, you can always speak with an ACU financial advisor to find strategies and solutions to help.
During this time (and always), it’s vital to borrow responsibly, and only within your means. Although this is not a time you want to add more debt, if you’re looking for a loan, then find one with flexible repayment schedules that does not penalize you for making early payments. Before applying for a loan, determine how much you can afford, and calculate how much you might be eligible to borrow based on your income and expenses. Once again, your ACU financial advisor can help you with this calculation, and help you choose between variable or fixed interest rates.
No matter the season, make a financial health check-up part of your new normal. This is a simple step that could help you reach your financial dreams sooner than you think. Simply click this link to get started. An ACU financial advisor will work with you to evaluate, plan and get you headed in the right direction.
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