Imagine commuting to work without stopping by your favorite coffee shop — you know, the one where the barista is making your vanilla oat milk latte as soon as you walk in the door? Or imagine never getting to browse the best sellers at your favorite indie bookstore — you know, the one that always makes you feel warm and cozy and nostalgic for a simpler time?
As we’ve all come to realize these last few weeks, it’s easy to take for granted the small businesses that bring us so much joy. We never had to think twice before swinging by our go-to bagel spot, picking up fresh flowers at the farmer’s market, or catching a last-minute class at our cycling studio.
Without our local shops, cafes, and restaurants, not only does our economy suffer, but so does the heartbeat of our communities. Because, despite our current reality of being confined within four walls, home is so much more than our actual living spaces. Home is the diner where we spontaneously meet up for Sunday brunch. Home is the corner bodega where we get our late-night groceries. Home is the rooftop bar where we celebrate anything at all.
Small businesses give life to our cities, and right now they need our help more than ever. Here are some ways you can support your local community during this trying time.
Create a New Takeout Tradition
Although the majority of U.S. restaurants and eateries have had no choice but to temporarily shut down regular operations in the midst of the pandemic, many are still offering takeout and delivery. Turn a usual takeout dinner into something a little more fun by exploring different cuisines and cultures. One night, order Thai and get drunk off of drunken noodles. The next weekend, order tacos and a side of guac from your favorite Mexican joint. Pair the meal with some music or an on-theme movie, then break out Duolingo and try learning a new language.
Write a Review
Nothing makes or breaks the success of a small business more than online reviews. Think back to any recent services you paid for. Whether it was a relaxing stay at an Airbnb, a memorable dinner date, or a stellar haircut, take a moment to write a genuine, glowing review. It will make a difference not only by attracting new customers, but by strengthening the credibility of the brand. With only your words, you can help a business owner in a huge way – how cool is that?
Shout-Out on Social
We can’t all be famous influencers, but that doesn’t mean we can’t use our social media platforms for good. Use your voice and creativity to share a positive experience you’ve had with a local business. That might mean making the effort to get the perfect shot of your almond croissant from the nearby bakery. Or it could be just the excuse to post the best of your wedding album and give a shout-out to your photographer. Just don’t forget to @ them!
Shop for Gifts
Even during such uncertain times, one thing is for sure: there will still be birthdays, holidays, and happy moments worth celebrating. Be one step ahead of the upcoming occasions by shopping online for special gifts. When you order that gorgeous ceramic dish for your friend’s fall wedding, or that handcrafted necklace for Mother’s Day, you’ll be supporting the small stores that depend on each and every sale.
Sign up for a Virtual Workout
A large part of our daily routines is sweating it out at our fitness studio of choice. Now in the age of quarantining, our usual exercises are looking a little different — especially for those of us cooped up in tiny apartments. But lucky for us, many gyms and studios are now shifting to virtual classes. Whether you join a free Instagram Live class or choose to pay for an online subscription, you’ll be helping your favorite fitness companies stay in business and remain relevant during these unprecedented times.
Treat Your (Future) Self
Is there ever a bad time to treat yourself? No way. But right now, our self-care is happening strictly at home. Why not splurge on a gift card for future indulging? In a few months, you could be enjoying a facial, a massage, or a brand new outfit. It’s always nice to have something to look forward to, and your local business will be grateful.
Spread the Love
Behind all of our favorite places are people: people with a dream to share their craft and passion with all of us. And right now, those dreams are in jeopardy. As a society, we’re collectively feeling overwhelmed. But a little kindness whether in the form of a smile, a “thank you”, or yes, a good tip, goes a long way. When we all do our part in supporting our communities, not only will we survive this — but we’ll come out even stronger in the end.