Small businesses are struggling right now. It’s no secret. With states shutting down to try to stop or slow the spread of COVID-19, the more than 30 million small businesses in the U.S. are struggling to make ends meet.
They aren’t the only ones. Many ordinary families are also struggling to find cash in their budgets as well all try to get through this extraordinary and unusual time as safely as possible. One consequence of all this, aside from all the obvious health ramifications, is that people don’t have a lot of cash on hand. With the holidays approaching, however, small businesses are starting to wonder if they’ll see the usual holiday sales.
Many people with the means to do so are starting to wonder how to support local small businesses during the holidays. Whether it’s their favorite local restaurant, the gym they used to go to or even an online retailer they know started local, people are trying to help where they can.
If you are one of those people, here are 8 ideas for how to support local small businesses during the holidays.
1. Upgrade Your House
If you have a home, it probably needs some sort of upgrade or repair. That’s just the nature of owning a home. Maybe your appliances are getting old or the carpet is dirty or you’d just like a change of scenery by painting a room.
Now can be a great time to do it. With so many of us stuck indoors due to both the weather and covid precautions, this is an excellent time for a project. You can also work on how to support local small businesses in the process. Get your project supplies from a local store. You can call around to see if they are open or offer deliveries right now.
You could also take on a larger project if you have the means. Maybe you have been putting off something like repairing a roof or repaving a driveway. Why not take that on now? It may not seem like it, but there are probably local contractors whom you can hire for this work.
A local contractor, even an independent contractor, is as much of a local business as a hardware store or mom and pop bakery. That contractor likely lives in the area and supports the community as well, so you hiring them can make a real impact on your local community.
Even large projects can help when it comes to how to support local small businesses during the holidays. You might be decorating your roof with Christmas lights to celebrate the season, but perhaps you aren’t going in and out of your garage as much right now. There are fewer reasons to travel and more reasons to stay home. This may make it a good time for buying garage doors if yours need a replacement.
It is possible to find a local seller even for things like this. A web search will be your best resource here. Many will default to showing you the closest provider for any product you look up. Click on the “Maps” tab and see who is local before you buy.
This does not mean you can’t buy online. Just look into what you’re buying and who you’re buying from as you do. For example, you can buy things like gardening tools and sheds online. Just make sure they’re coming from a local business and not being shipped across the world. That way you can safely get what you need and support a local business.
2. Get a Car
Looking for new wheels? Why not do it now?
We always see commercials during the holiday season about buying a car as a gift. Maybe this is the year to do. Car shopping is something you can do entirely online or while keeping a safe distance. If you went to a local car dealership, you could view the cars outside and while wearing masks, which is still a safe way of shopping.
The one complication you may face is test driving. Normally this would be a crucial part of the car buying experience, but with COVID it is tougher to justify getting in a car with a stranger. The pandemic is changing the way many of us shop for a new car. However, this may not be the worst thing.
When it comes to those test drives, for example, more and more dealers are letting customers test drive a car alone without a sales person in your ear the entire way. This means you can try out the car without feeling pressured to buy.
That isn’t the only part of the process that has changed. The entire sales process is lower pressure now thanks to things moving online. No more sales person pushing you to sign in person. Now you can negotiate online at your own pace. You can even get financing and insurance online.
All of this makes buying a car a great example of how to support local small businesses during the holidays. Find a local dealership and enjoy a less pushy car buying experience.
3. Think Simple
The first two items on this list are rather large. Home repairs and cars are certainly not things all of us need or even can afford right now. Don’t despair, however. There are plenty of smaller ideas for how to support local small businesses during the holidays this year.
For example, you could do something as simple as buying flowers. Find some local florist shops and get some fresh flowers. This not only helps a local business, but it might also help with being stuck inside during cold months with inhospitable weather.
Fresh flowers can make for lovely holiday decorations, brightening up your home along with all your typical decorations. We tend to associate flowers with summer and spring and Valentine’s Day, but why not start early this year for a dose of freshness and color?
There are lots more simple ways to buy local. Get creative with how you gift. Perhaps there’s a local toy store. Maybe a local artist is selling prints. Perhaps a local bakery is creating holiday-themed desserts and treats.
You could even go outside the box for something like custom printed tshirts. They make for great gifts that you can personalize for your loved ones.
4. Figure Out What Is (Safely) Still Open
Even in states that are shut down, there are some services that are still open. Where these types of businesses are enforcing proper safety protocols, they offer a great opportunity in regards to how to support local small businesses during the holidays.
These businesses are likely struggling to make ends meet when it comes to things like rent, employee pay, and the normal cost of operating. They may have reduced capacity and other restrictions, which makes it hard for them to earn as much money as they used to.
One type of business that has been given an exception in some states is spas. This includes things like nail salons and your local waxing studio.
You may want to check out these businesses in person first, but if they have proper safety precautions in place, they can be ideal for holiday gifting. A gift card for a spa day can offer relaxation to a loved one that is understandably stressed out right now. It will help the local business as well, which is probably feeling the pinch with the holidays coming and less business arriving.
5. Invest in Currency
This one is a little more roundabout, but you could invest in currency as a means of helping out. You could buy silver or gold, for example. For those who are particularly savvy, you might trade currencies on the market.
How does this support local businesses? By putting more cash in the community overall. If you have disposable income, you can spend it in your community. In some instances, you may even be able to find local businesses that will buy silver or gold themselves.
Times are incredibly tough, so solutions for how to support local small businesses that fall outside the norm are going to prove necessary in some cases. If this is an area where you have some experience and expertise, it could help struggling local businesses simply by putting more money in your pocket that you can spend later.
6. Upgrade Your Internet
Even if you are doing some of your shopping in person this holiday season, the internet is going to be crucial. It is probably how you or someone else in your household is doing their day job. It is also likely how you will purchase goods and services from certain local small businesses.
Upgrading your internet doesn’t merely keep you connected. It also gives you a better solution for how to support local small businesses during the holidays. If you can’t access goods and services because your internet connection is so poor, you can’t do the research necessary to ensure your holiday spending helps out local businesses struggling to make ends meet right now.
Whether you upgrade what you’ve already got or go with something fancier such as secure capacity connectivity, a boost to your internet can be a huge boon right now. It is the way so many of us are staying connected at the moment, and that includes local businesses.
You may even discover local small businesses that are running promotions exclusively online right now. Many gyms have started offering online classes because customers can not work out in person anymore. Theater troops are doing plays and performances online. Orchestras are streaming their concerts. There are even movies premiering online rather than in theaters.
Buying a digital ticket could make for a great holiday gift for your entire family, but you need to have the internet capacity for it. Upgrading could be a gift for your whole family and offer a way to support local small businesses.
7. Shop Online
We’ve touched on this briefly, but shop online! You can absolutely shop online and still support local businesses. Many businesses have set up some sort of online store. With COVID, you can purchase everything from yoga classes to therapy sessions to new cars online.
When it comes to how to support local small businesses during the holidays, we might not immediately think of shopping online. It comes down to being a smart shopper. Buying from Amazon might get you something quicker and cheaper, but it probably won’t be local or support your local community. Try to find local retailers and then look up whether they have an online shop of any sort right now.
It doesn’t matter what you’re buying either. Think outside the box. You might be used to buying video games or books online, but think bigger. You can shop bodysuits online. You can get your groceries. You can buy clothes, cars, plants and just about anything else you might need entirely online.
The key, if you want to know how to support local small businesses while shopping online during the holidays, is to look carefully at whom you’re really buying from. Sometimes a small business will get a little kickback from a big retailer like Amazon, but where possible it’s always best to buy from the local small business itself so they get a larger cut of the cash. With times being so tough, they will need it.
8. Have Fun
We live in pretty serious times. The threat of COVID to our families, our health, and the livelihoods of so many, include local small businesses, is no joke. However, that does not mean we can’t find joy during the holiday season and still have fun.
While making your choices for how to support local small businesses during this tough holiday season, keep fun in mind. That is still an important thing for everyone.
You don’t have to just stick to the usual. You could buy something like pickleball accessories or a badminton kit that might be fun for your whole family. You are stuck at home anyway. Why not get some new toys and games that you can all enjoy together?
It is going to take some creativity for all of us to get through this holiday season. Many small businesses are struggling just to get by. There are many ideas out there for how to support local small businesses during this holiday season, however. Find what works for you and your family and see how you can support your community.