Support local: Why small businesses in your community need you this holiday season

Shop local. We’ve all heard this phrase, and it’s important to our Manitoba business community. 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 time of year. Many business owners face challenges with cash flow, staffing, inventory and sales issues, especially during hectic times of year — whether that be brick-and-mortar or online.

As consumers, we can play our part. During these holidays, there are many creative ways you can support local businesses.

Support local restaurants

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.

Support local coffee shops

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. Before you order something from Amazon, check to see if a local vendor carries the item that you’re looking to purchase.

2. Ask local shops for delivery

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. Use this opportunity to have gifts delivered to friends and family in other neighbourhoods, cities or towns, and give them a nice surprise — even from a distance.

3. Celebrate the holidays with a tasty restaurant

Looking to have a special meal at your favourite spot this season? Reserve your table in advance and confirm the number of guests in your party so the restaurant can plan for your arrival. If you’re not able to dine in, then consider ordering takeout or catering. At home, put on music, set the table and create a warm holiday atmosphere at your dining room table with a fun holiday theme. Your guests will appreciate the effort and your local restaurant will be thankful for the support.

Support local: Dinner with friends Silver Heights Restaurant

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 that whoever 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

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 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 find out if there are other ways to help. For example, they might ask you to leave them a Google review as a previously satisfied customer.

8. Be generous

Tips are always appreciated by service workers, but right now they can make all the difference in the world. 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 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 when 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 you don’t 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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About Rubain Manzoor

Rubain Manzoor is a data-driven freelance content strategist. She's on a mission to make boring business blogs and websites interesting, and focuses on an inbound approach to strategy and writing. When she's not working, she's binge-watching her favourite show or discovering new eats for her upcoming food blog.

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