The Season of Small
Months into the COVID-19 pandemic and with ever-changing regulations, our business community needs your support now more than ever. There are many ways you can continue to safely shop and support our local businesses and nonprofits. During the “Season of Small” we challenge you to do as much of your holiday shopping locally.
“There’s a multiplier effect,” said Bill Brunelle, the managing partner of Independent We Stand, an organization that helps its small-business members nationwide with marketing. “If you buy at a hardware store, that owner may hire a local accountant, while the employees may go to local restaurants and other nearby stores. The success of one business can steamroll through the economy.” – via New York Times.
Buy Local First
In many cases, local retailers offer the same item that you may find elsewhere, and you can get item faster when it is only a short walk or drive away. This time of year is a great opportunity to explore new stores, especially when holiday shopping ofr others. Another advantage is the level of customer service when purchasing from a local retailer. Looking for a specific shoe or bottle of wine? A local business is much more helpful in tracking down exactly what you need. And if they don’t have what you are looking for, they may be able to refer you to another local business who may have the item in stock.
Local businesses may not have the same resources that larger chains do when it comes to financial assistance and recovering from uncertain times like these. Whether you’re getting your morning coffee fix or stocking up on food and necessities, look to local businesses first. Not sure where to start? The chamber’s business directory provides searchable list of local businesses.
Sending gifts to out-of-town family and friends? Explore the small, locally-owned businesses in near them. Similar to businesses here in the valley – many are likely to be open to coordinating a pick up or delivery of gifts. Skip the shipping costs, and potential delays, while support small businesses.
Buy Local, Online
Many retailers have websites where you can buy their products, goods and services online. Even if there are restrictions in place, many businesses are able to accommodate customers to make holiday shopping easier. If your favorite local retailer doesn’t have an online store, many are willing to take an order over the phone and have it ready for pickup or delivery – it never hurts to ask. Some retailers have even gone as far as to do virtual walkthroughs, so customers can browse without having to physically be there.
For example, chamber member Bookbinders is online with Bookshop.com, an online bookstore that supports local, independent bookstores. This year Heirlooms Resale launched its new online store, so you have the option to shop in-person or at home.
Order takeout or delivery
The majority of local restaurants offer takeout and delivery options. Many businesses will bring take out orders directly to your car for easy, no contact pickup. Check out our list of chamber member restaurants, and dine with them. Several restaurants have added online order platforms, making it even easier to “make dinner” tonight.
The Source, out of Craft Coffee House, offers delivery of local goods (including items from Rock Bottom and Early Morning Orchards) as well grocery delivery and even the creation of gift baskets filled with items from your favorite local stores. Make the request, and they will make it happen AND get it to your door safely.
If you have an ongoing subscription at a gym, or with a stylist, or similar business, consider keeping it active – even if you’re not going to show up right now. If you are a business owner and rely on B2B contracts, for example a local cleaning company or coffee vendor, consider keeping those contracts running as well, regardless of whether you business is operating (and assuming you are financially able to do so). Small businesses rely on that regular cash flow to keep things open. Support them now so that these business are there later when public health orders are less restrictive.
If you are a local business owner, take this opportunity to collaborate with your business community to see how you can help one another overcome challenges. A local grocery store may have a need for the staff you had to reduce hours for. Collaborating and understanding the unique challenges of different businesses will lead to solutions that benefit everyone.
Tip a little extra
If you are financially able to do so, tip a little extra to the restaurants, salons and other service industries you may visit. These service workers may not have the privilege of income security, and a little extra can go a long way.
Buy a gift card
Unable to shop or dine-in right now? Buy a gift card from a local business to use later on. For those not wanting to visit in person, many businesses will offer to mail or email you the gift card upon request.
Donate and volunteer
Area non-profits are working harder than ever to address new community challenges. Now is a great time to donate to the causes and organizations you care most about. The chamber has an extensive roster of local nonprofits who could use your help, whether through a financial contribution, or by giving your time.
Rethink the holiday party
For the ultimate win/win, consider purchasing gift certificates for employees and clients. These can be redeemed a the recipient’s leisure, or even better, host a virtual happy hour or lunch where the gift certificates are cashed-in prior to everyone meeting up online.
Utilize social media/chamber marketing platforms
Not all support for small businesses requires a transaction. There are many no-cost ways for you to show the love of local. Social media can play a huge role in supporting the local community. Share specials or snap a photo of your favorite dish from local restaurants. Leave a review and share it after receiving great service from your local landscaper. Lead by example in encouraging your online following to support local businesses.
On the business side, be sure your organization is taking advantage of all the different promotional opportunities that exist. Chamber members can leverage the directory listing, enhancing it with photos, videos and other media. The weekly newsletter, as well as the Season of Small landing page [LINK TK] are all places to promote sales, happenings and gift ideas.
We’re encouraging all local businesses and community members to share with us how they are supporting our local community with the hashtag #SeasonOfSmall. Tag your posts and we’ll do our best to share on our channels, too!
Abide by local public health orders
Another way you can support local businesses is by following the local public health requirements and guidelines, including wearing a mask, washing your hands and keeping your distance when you are outside of your household. Why is this important? Businesses are highly impacted by the disease trends in a community – case numbers, positivity rates and hospitalizations numbers ultimately determine how much occupancy a business can have, and what restrictions are in place. Healthier people means healthier businesses.
In these times of uncertainty, it is important to remember that many will be stressed and anxious. Be patient with one another, practice compassion, collaborate, and remember that we will get through this by coming together as a community.
If your business is facing challenges, please reach out to the chamber. We may not have all the answers, however we are hear to listen and help in any way that we can. Please give us a call at (970) 927-4031 or email the chamber Executive Director at email@example.com.