Small local businesses are the heart of our communities. They’re common places for friends and family to gather and a space where people can connect with their neighbors.
During the best of times, small business owners struggle under the weight of their responsibilities and finances, but these last few years have been especially trying for them.
The pandemic shut everyone down, and many shops weren’t able to reopen. The stores that opened back up need your help. If you’re looking for ways to support local businesses in your community, give these ideas a try.
Be a Regular Customer
For most business owners, their store is their primary source of income. If they don’t have a regular flow of customers, they don’t get paid.
Rinse and repeat too many times, and they’ll go out of business. By making purchases from them when you can, you pay them for their service and show your gratitude for their shop’s part in the community.
Explore Local Offerings
Often local businesses lose out to major online retailers because of their ease of use, vast product selection and quick shipping. However, many consumers fail to see the power behind their purchases.
Buying from e-commerce giants passively says you approve of their practices and are willing to support them. If that doesn’t sit quite right with you, try switching to local businesses for some of the purchases you’d typically make online.
Take a walk and explore what your area has to offer. You may be surprised at the hidden gems you find. Small shops are a great way to purchase groceries, books, craft supplies, clothes and gifts. If you can name it, there’s probably a local business where you can find it.
Buy Gift Cards
You can support local businesses even if you don’t have anything you currently need to purchase. Buy gift cards for friends and family, or keep them for yourself to use on a future trip to the store. Doing so will help them out now and bring customers in the door down the road.
Related: 5 Tips for Buying Gift Cards
During the pandemic, many local stores started or strengthened their online presence as a way to maintain business, while in-person shopping wasn’t an option. If you’re still staying in and avoiding contact where possible, shopping online with a local store might be an alternative to purchasing with major online companies.
Be a Good Tipper
Hourly workers who rely on tips at local restaurants, salons and other services have also been hit very hard these last few years. With fewer in-person customers to wait on, these employees aren’t able to make as much as they used to.
Not only are they underpaid, but because of the worker shortage, they’re also overworked. A kind word and a fair tip would go a long way to helping out these undervalued local business employees.
Refer Your Friends and Family
Word of mouth is possibly the easiest way to help out local businesses. If you’ve recently had a great experience at a shop or restaurant in your area, mention it to your loved ones.
Be ready with recommendations of your favorite local dry cleaner that uses green solvents or the restaurant that serves fantastic food and sponsors youth programs. Sharing why you love them will encourage others to want to try them out too.
Share on Social Media
Along with establishing online stores to do business, local shops have taken to social media to promote their brand. Follow your favorite stores and share their posts as much as possible.
You can also post pictures of your haul, highlighting unique finds or great deals, which would be especially helpful for local businesses without their own social media presence.
Related: The Advantages of Social Media
Join Their Email List
Emails lists are beneficial for you and your favorite local shops. They provide business owners with another way to advertise their products, services or events, and you get first access to new products and sales. Joining their list is a free way to establish a bond and show your appreciation.
Write Positive Reviews
Find your favorite local shops online and leave them good reviews. Some great places to check are Google, Yelp, Facebook and the shop’s personal website.
Potential customers are more likely to check out a store or restaurant with great ratings, so your recommendation could make a serious difference in their traffic. Plus, leaving a review is a simple process and won’t take much of your time.
Check-In and Say Thank You
While spreading the word about your incredible local businesses and shopping with them regularly is a major help, you can’t ignore the power of saying thank you.
Being a small business owner is never easy, even more so lately. While you’re shopping, check-in with the owner or staff and see how they’re doing.
You could even bring them a gift card for coffee or a small treat to show them your appreciation.
Your Support Is Important
Now, more than ever, local businesses need our support. Stores of all sizes are closing down everywhere because they’ve lost too much business to e-commerce giants.
Though their prices might be higher, you can’t deny the improved experience of shopping in a local store or buying produce from a farm stand. Buying local helps people in your area stay in business and supports your community.