Local businesses are at the heart of every community and the hardest hit by COVID-19. The Payroll Protection Program offered payroll funds that had to be used within eight weeks, allowing employers to keep their workers paid while they sat at home waiting for the doors to open. Both essential and non-essential small businesses struggled to pay rent, insurance, and utilities, and despite a gradual reopening, social distancing measures limited the revenue needed to survive. Restaurants have been hardest hit with fewer tables, fewer customers and limited hours.
Many of us are still feeling the impact of the COVID-19 shut-downs, and although we are separated by social distancing, we can help our community thrive by supporting local shops and restaurants. Here are five ways consumers can help:
- Buy gift cards. Service companies like spas, salons, and barbershops that don’t sell products are hurting and purchasing a gift card to be used later would help them stay afloat now.
- Order take-out or delivery. With dine-in restrictions, many restaurants are dependent on take-out as a vital source of income but the profit margin is lower, so tipping a little extra can help them get through this economic crisis.
- Shop local. Many stores have reopened, but with limited hours and strict social distancing measures. Be loyal to local shops by ordering online from them instead of ordering from large internet retailers. If they don’t have an online platform, ask if they are selling their products on another site such as Etsy or Facebook Marketplace. Ask for store credit instead of a refund if you need to return an item and help boost their immediate cash flow.
- Spread the word. Follow small businesses on social media and share their posts. Use Yelp and other rating sites to leave good reviews, and have your friends and family do the same. Small businesses depend heavily on word-of mouth and local commentary.
Small businesses are hurting the most. It’s up to us as members of our community to do what we can to help them survive. With patience and empathy we can support our local businesses and help our recovery as a nation. Something as simple as buying a gift card from your favorite local restaurant will mean a lot to these neighbors who have always been there for us.
Guest Author Hannah Parker is a social work student intern at Jenerations Health Education, Inc. for the 2020-2021 academic year. She will graduate from Salisbury University this spring and plans to attend graduate school.
FUN FACT: Hannah played basketball from the time she was five years old until her freshman year of college as a point guard. For the last several years she has coached boy’s and girl’s recreational basketball at the elementary and middle school level.