By now you have probably heard many news stories about how the pandemic is crushing the economy, particularly hitting local small businesses the hardest. Small businesses have struggled during the coronavirus pandemic, but their owners hope the holiday shopping will boost their sales.
Viviana O. started her business, JV Beauty Lashes, at the start of this year, just before the pandemic forced many small businesses to shut down. Excited at the prospects of growing her new business, Viviana says her revenue projections were negatively impacted and keeping her social media presence active has been a challenge. When asked how consumers can help her small business, she recommends spreading the word and being open to buying online. “Small-business owners put a lot of effort on social media, and engagement means a lot to help raise awareness. Advertising is expensive nowadays and a ‘share’ or a ‘like’ can go a long way,” says Viviana.
In addition, local barbers Parker V. and Chris E., co-owners of Champions Barber Shop, also started their business at the start of the year and say booking appointments in advance is a great way to support their business. They share this tip: “It is a difficult time for many businesses, and we do everything in our power to take care of our customers during COVID-19. Booking a haircut for family members or friends in advance is a great way to show support for our barbershop!”
Small businesses are resilient in tough times and champions in our local communities. They deserve our help because they are job creators, generate tax revenue and form part of an ecosystem that helps create civically engaged citizens. Buying locally is an expression of community loyalty, and this holiday season presents a perfect opportunity to make a difference.
Did you know that for every $100 you spend at locally owned businesses, $68 stays in the community, compared to just $43 when you shop at a national chain? Or that small businesses create two out of three new U.S. jobs annually? Many studies have shown when you shop locally, you are supporting the engines that fuel our national economy.
If you are ready to help small businesses thrive, here are five meaningful ways to make a difference in your local economy.
- Support and engage with their social media efforts. Advertising budgets have shrunk for the majority of small-business owners and engaging with their local community to find consumers is important to activate social engagement algorithms. If your budget is tight this holiday season, share the love by sharing their pages or posts.
- Buy your retail products online and be flexible on delivery options. Online shopping is a great way to streamline your orders while saving time. Many retailers have curbside pickup, takeout or delivery options. While it may cost a few more bucks to have a product delivered sooner, remember you are helping your local economy.
- Treat yourself or a loved one with a gift card. Buying gift cards helps the small business with cash flow and keeps them around longer. Plus, giving gift cards to your loved ones is like giving them cash to spend and invest in their local economy as well.
- Share reviews and boost word-of-mouth. Writing reviews beyond social media pages is also important. Many small-business owners appreciate positive Google or Yelp reviews. This helps boost word-of-mouth outside of social media bubbles for new consumers to find the small business.
- Shop directly and early while doubling up on your orders. Many small-business owners sell their products on large platforms like Etsy or Amazon, which charge a fee, thus reducing the small-business owner’s profit. Try calling your favorite small business and buy directly from them. Do your holiday spending early and double up on your orders if you can. This helps the small business with an extra boost of cash and productivity to keep operating into the new year.
Supporting local businesses goes beyond the immediate economic benefits — it helps a little girl get music lessons, a little boy get his soccer team jersey, a mom or dad put food on the table, a family pay a mortgage, or a student pay for college. Buying local sounds like an all-around win-win-win scenario to me.
EDGAR RAFAEL OLIVO is a bilingual business educator, economic advisor and contributor for several media outlets. He’s a nonprofit executive who is passionate about education. He is certified in finance and data analytics and holds a business degree from Arizona State University.
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