Sherrill McManus Peterson is the owner of Sam’s Cafe in downtown Ceres.
If you know me, you know that I am actively-involved in my local Chamber of Commerce as a volunteer director. I live, work, play and pray in my community, so I wanted this week’s blog to reflect on what we can do for our communities, despite which city you live in.
Without mincing words, times are scary. People are afraid, and beyond that there is a significant amount of uncertainty about what is to come. In times like these, it’s important to pull together as a community and support each other in any way possible. This includes the small businesses in our communities, since they are an essential part of what keeps our communities going; without our support during the darker times, some of them may not survive to see the sun come out again.
How are you supposed to do that in a limited-contact or social isolation scenario, though? Fortunately, there are still several options available that will help you to help those local businesses that keep your community running.
Buy Gift Certificates
One great way to support local businesses is to buy gift cards and gift certificates even if you don’t need them right now. This allows you to make a simple purchase that minimizes potential contact while giving the business that issued the certificate some much-needed income. Once things improve, you can then return to the business and take your time using the gift cards you purchased. As an added bonus, they’re also easy to give to others if you know someone who’s in need.
Buy Branded Merchandise
Another good option is to buy branded merchandise such as t-shirts or coffee mugs that advertise the business. On top of the usual benefits of making a purchase, these items help to advertise the business as well. As an added bonus, buying branded merchandise helps you to show the business owner that you’re there to support the business specifically.
Order Online or On the Phone
Can’t get out? Check and see which businesses in your area offer online ordering and make use of that feature. If you can’t order online, give them a call and inquire about placing an order. You can even make arrangements for delivery or pickup while you’re on the phone.
Tip for Deliveries and Carry-Outs
A lot of people are relying on delivery and carry-out orders these days, especially from local restaurants. Unfortunately, a lot of people tip very little if at all for these services. Remember that a lot of employees are facing reduced hours in this stressful time, and every dollar helps. Be sure to tip even if you normally wouldn’t, and be generous when you do.
Spread the Word
There are many types of support. Financial support is definitely important for local businesses trying to stay open, but not everyone can help out financially. If you can’t afford to shop right now, try to get the word out on social media and other platforms. Share posts, talk about the businesses that you’d like to support and even post pictures of yourself wearing some branded merch. Every little bit helps, and someone might see your post and decide that they need to support local shops as well.
Donate Your Refunds
A major problem that small venues face is the refunding of canceled events. They’ve already spent money on advertising and racked up other costs, and now they’re losing their portion of ticket sales. If you have tickets for an event that was canceled and unlikely to be rescheduled, call the box office and inquire about donating your refund instead. While not all venues will do this, donating your ticket price lets those that do recoup some of what they spent and may even help them to stay open in the face of additional cancellations.
Local businesses are a part of your community, and as such they want to see the community thrive. Situations like this are very stressful for business owners and employees alike, and the last thing that they want to see is people fighting over merchandise or those in need having to do without because someone else hoarded all the toilet paper. When shopping at local businesses, be courteous to other shoppers, maintain a safe distance so no one is crowded, and avoid the temptation to grab everything when you just need one or two items.
If you need to find local businesses and professionals to support, start by checking out your local Chamber of Commerce’s Membership Directory. There are many businesses that are suffering at this time. By shopping local, you’re investing back into your community and local economy.
Renee Ledbetter, Realtor®