In this uncertain time, it’s more important than ever to support the local economy. Behind every business are real people, and shopping locally helps them stay afloat in rough waters. For small business owners, these acts of kindness uplift their businesses, but just as important, their spirits as well. Beyond this, community spirit and compassion are critical to making it through the current crisis.
Although the need for physical distancing has made direct social interaction more difficult, there is still a great need for people to “come together” to support each other. It may take a little creativity, but there are many ways to shop, share, and be a good neighbor via the digital world. Here are just a few of our suggestions on how to care for your friends, neighbors, and local businesses.
1. Be a good neighbor – Check in with friends and neighbors via Facetime or a phone call and see how they’re doing — you might just make their day. Ask how you can help. Maybe they’re running low on supplies, or just need to talk for a bit and de-stress. In times like these, it’s important to take the time to be kind, because you never know what kind of impact you’ll be able to make on someone’s life.
2. Continue making purchases – Support local retail by purchasing a gift card from service-related businesses, making online purchases from community retailers, or support local artisans and farms. If your favorite stylist had to cancel your appointment, front them the money by purchasing a gift card that you’ll use when you schedule your next visit. This not only helps your stylist stay afloat, but is a great gift for your future self as well. You can also support local makers by purchasing handmade gifts or supplies, such as dish towels or soaps.
3. Show your community spirit – Now is a great time to give “local love” by supporting businesses on social media. This might include leaving a positive note of encouragement or a review for a business that you frequent, or sharing posts and updates from local business social media pages to help others know what’s happening. While business may be slow, sharing relevant content from businesses and organizations allows for greater community exposure, engagement, and support.
4. Order out – Many areas are now requiring restaurants to close for dine-in, only allowing for takeout, delivery, or curbside pickup. Give them a hand by treating yourself to a special meal from one of your favorites and help offset their loss of business. You’ll be happier, they’ll be busier, and the food will be delicious. This is also a great way to treat yourself and others, by having a special meal from your favorite restaurant. Don’t forget to tip! If your local restaurant is closed, or you can’t make the drive, consider buying a gift card to use in the future — any amount helps!
5. Send a card – A physical card is a great way to show people who might not be able to have visitors that someone is thinking of them. Local nursing homes may not be allowing visitors at this time, and a card is a great way to cheer them up. Don’t have blank cards on hand? Even better, just make one instead! What might seem like a simple gesture can truly brighten someone’s day.
6. Host a digital community meet up – Connect with the community by skill-sharing or hosting digital social gatherings. Resources such as Google Hangouts or Facebook Live provide an easy-to-use outlet to “be together” through video. We’ve seen a lot of creative ways to be social, including digital paint nights and community karaoke. Staying social in a time of physical distancing is important for your mental health and wellbeing.
7. Join an online community group – Many areas have set up local assistance Facebook groups, dedicated to the needs of the community. These groups allow you to connect with people in your area in real time to find ways to help others, and if you are in need, you can ask for help too. Can’t find a group in your area? Be inspired and start your own, inviting friends and neighbors to join. Make sure to open the group to the public!
If you’re looking for ways to make a difference in your community while practicing social distancing, we hope this list has given you some ideas! We’d also love to see creative ways you are showing local love — so please, share your ideas with us! The way we interact with each other may be changing, but the more we stick together as a community the greater our strength. Let’s all be kind, be patient, and remember we are all on the same team.