Local businesses add color, innovation, and personality to a global economy that’s become more uniform than ever before. Imagine your city center without small local stores, art galleries, cafes, and restaurants. A life without independent artists, journalists, photographers, and designers….
We’d rather live in a world full of options. From specialty items to everyday groceries, the diversity of local businesses adds personality to our world. As a customer, you can support the businesses that bring that variety.
1. Ask for options before you cancel
So many local businesses are finding creative, innovative ways to keep their companies alive right now. A cancellation means leaving the business completely out of pocket. Instead, ask business owners what other options they can offer.
If you’ve already budgeted for an expense, get in touch before you cancel. These entrepreneurs know their business extremely well and they know what they can offer. Not only will you keep some of your own plans alive, you will also help a local business get through this.
2. Cancel your reservations in time
Yes, please take a moment to call the restaurant and cancel your reservation. Reaching out in time saves restaurants costs—they won’t have to buy food that won’t be used. A quick phone call could prevent further losses for the restaurant and prevents food waste.
This doesn’t just go for restaurants. Have a look at your plans in general for the next months. If you’ve made reservations anywhere, ask yourself “Do I really need to cancel?” If so, do it in plenty of time.
3. Reschedule instead of cancelling
You shouldn’t travel now if you can avoid it. Even so, you’ve already invested time and money planning your trip. So postpone it instead of canceling. Once the crisis is over, local businesses will need to receive guests again.
Many booking platforms have built-in options to reschedule a booking. And if they don’t, just reach out to the owner of your B&B, tiny house, or campsite directly and ask to reschedule.
4. Ask restaurants for meal kits or delivery
Not every restaurant is on a food delivery service. But with fewer guests visiting the restaurant, many will now consider it. So if you’re at home taking care of the kids, ask your local restaurant if they’ll deliver a meal or a meal kit to your doorstep. Always try to pay by card online or over the phone as an extra precaution.
You get fresh tasty food and the restaurant owner gets some income during hard times. Planned a family get-together over dinner? Buy them all meal kits instead!
5. Don’t ask for refunds
Bought tickets for a play or concert? Sure, you may have a right to a full refund if the event is canceled. But you don’t necessarily have to use that right.
Help the venue out instead and offer the price of your ticket as a donation. If you still want to go to plays and concerts after the crisis is over, it’s important to protect cultural institutions now by waiving your right to a refund.
6. Support a local artist
Artists and musicians survive by going from one gig to another. Those gigs are now gone until further notice and that means next month’s rent is gone as well. If local artists ever needed your support, it is now.
Support them with donations on Patreon, buy their merchandise, or order work from smaller artists in your local bookstore, record store, or art gallery. Or ask a local artist to create a customized work for you.
7. Ask businesses for alternatives
A live interpreter for events can offer language lessons online. A concert pianist can give a video masterclass. Gyms can provide personalized training plans with exercises you can do at home. Bookstores offer curbside pickup. All you need to do is ask them.
Local businesses may already offer alternatives, or they might come up with some in the next couple of weeks as the new reality sinks in. If they don’t, make it clear what you would be willing to pay for. You might be throwing someone a lifeline with a simple idea.
8. Subscribe for online classes that you normally visit offline
Fitness classes, yoga, creative writing, singing, playing an instrument… There are so many classes you can take online instead. If a local business offers this option, take it! The business gets more out of it than just income, your participation also shows your support and solidarity.
9. Buy fresh…
So you stocked up on anything that is dried, canned or long-lasting. If you want your stockpiling to make any sense, you should eat fresh goods now. How about fresh pasta from your local deli? Fruit and vegetables from the farm shop?
10. …and from a small store
We’ve all seen the panic buying. Toilet paper, dried pasta, and spaghetti sauce were flying off the shelves faster than the staff could restock them. And most of that happened at large chain store supermarkets while the small, local shops have been less affected. Why not get your groceries at the local store on the corner? Give your business to a local business!
Want to really make a difference? Ask the senior citizens in your street what they need. They often don’t have the strength to carry as much and as a risk group shouldn’t go shopping themselves.