Are you wondering how you can help as a consumer in supporting small business? Here are some ideas.
In the early weeks of the coronavirus pandemic, consumers supported small businesses by purchasing gift cards online and fundraising campaigns. But with the pandemic continuing and limited work hours restrictions, many independent companies continued to struggle.
Across the country, homeowners have devised creative strategies to keep businesses afloat, benefiting consumers, homeowners and the commercial health of the neighborhood.
“There’s a ripple effect,” said Bill Brunel, managing partner at Independent We Stand, an organization that assists small member firms across the country with marketing. “If you buy from a hardware store, this owner can hire a local accountant, while employees can go to local restaurants and other stores nearby. Business success can extend to the economy.”
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“Everyone’s complaining about the lack of retail, but we can only keep these companies afloat with our participation,” said Ande Breunig, a real estate agent in Evanston, Illinois. Ms Bryong created a group on Facebook in the hope of motivating residents to increase their support for local businesses and services.
So how can consumers contribute to this virtuous cycle, especially during the all-important holiday season? Here are some tips to keep in mind.
Buy Local as Consumber
Before you drop the “order” with an e-commerce geek, find out if your local retailer has the same item. Independent libraries, for example, can quickly order and receive your choice. Although you can get a lot online, “go for a walk, go to a store, put on your mask and do your shopping,” said Eileen Bayer, president and CEO of the Business Improvement District in Hudson Square, devoted to Manhattan’s West Soho District. Think of the people on the other end of the buying process.
But buying locally doesn’t necessarily mean giving up all online sites. Platforms like Bookshop and Alibris connect users with young booksellers. Clothing stores can sell through sites like Shopify, Lyst.com, and Farfetch, as well as Sook, a newcomer who also hosts stores that sell homeware.
When sending gifts to friends and family out of town, look for independent stores in their city. And don’t assume an e-commerce site can outgrow a local business – even online sites have experienced delays due to the supply chain disruption caused by the pandemic.
Go to the Source
There are always times when you need to hook up. On other days, however, think carefully about how to order food. Instead of using a delivery app, order a delivery from the dock: Sites like Grubhub and Uber Eats charge restaurant fees that can hit really slim profit margins. Instacart and Shipt, two companies that offer shopping and shipping, also charge fees to merchants who use the sites.
Although it is easy to buy through a so-called digital store on sites like Facebook and Instagram, purchases through third-party apps usually reduce the merchant’s net earnings. (Facebook, the Instagram owner, waived the sales fee until the end of the year, but will reassess the practice in January, a Facebook spokesperson said in an email.)
Help build a business presence on social media by “liking” hardware, dry cleaners, and other independent stores on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Write positive reviews, post-shopping photos generously, and don’t forget to tag companies. Consider slightly larger efforts, such as community mailing lists and social media groups like Nextdoor.
Ms Briong said retailers are smart when it comes to selling, but many don’t fully understand that social media plays an important role. Through her Facebook group, she launched a “store adoption” effort, in which residents choose a store and commit to shop there once a week (with no minimum spending) and post their experiences on Facebook. Within five days, Ms Brunig said, 24 Evanston stores had been “certified”.
Vous pouvez multiplier l’impact des efforts philanthropiques en faisant participer les petites entreprises lorsque cela est possible. Commandez des repas pour les travailleurs essentiels dans des restaurants indépendants. Achetez localement lorsque vous achetez des vêtements. Et même si c’est un peu plus haut, achetez de la nourriture sur les marchés locaux.
Susan Fisk, directrice du développement en ondes chez WHYY, stations de radio et de télévision publiques de Philadelphie, a eu une autre idée. «Nos auditeurs sont préoccupés par le fait qu’il y ait des problèmes chez maman et papa à côté pendant la pandémie», a-t-elle dit, alors elle a demandé aux donateurs sur les réseaux sociaux de nommer leurs œuvres locales préférées lorsqu’ils aidaient à lire à haute voix.
La station a décerné les deux lauréats les plus votés – Horsham Square Pharmacy à Horsham, en Pennsylvanie, et MiX, une startup de Bryn Mawr, en Pennsylvanie. Il s’agit de créer un distributeur de boissons personnalisé – une publicité radiophonique de 3 500 $. Mme Fisk a ajouté que la promotion a également stimulé les dons des auditeurs, avec plus de 700 partisans appelant à la Journée du défi des petites entreprises, près de trois fois le nombre habituel.
Service companies – including personal trainers and hairdressing salons – have been hit particularly hard by the epidemic because they are among the most difficult businesses to reopen. Gift cards are helpful, as are generous advice for the extrovert.
And remember that small businesses depend on repeat customers, even if they are trying to attract new customers. Like many others, Simon Johnson, the owner of Indulge Hair Salon LLC in Englewood, New Jersey, was not prepared for the sudden shutdown in March. She started creating videos to help her clients style their hair at no cost and held virtual sessions to recreate an online version to allow for socializing.
She said her clients offered to pay, but she refused. “I didn’t do it for financial gain – it made me busy and I didn’t think about myself.” She said new customers came after watching the videos, and they and the pre-existing customers had shown their generosity. “Instead of a 20 percent tip, it becomes a 50 percent tip,” Johnson said.
Accept the Rack Rate
Yes, Everyone loves a discount and very pleased when giving discounts, but perhaps now is not the right time. If you can afford the price of the item, pay fully the price.
Participate in Community Efforts
While the pandemic has left many isolated, local business organizations are trying to fill the void with socially distant community programs that can boost economic activity.
Wellfleet, Massachusetts, the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce, for example, is sponsoring a month-long online bingo competition in which each square has a “call to action,” including a donation to a charitable organization. Virtual or local non-profit course.
Share ideas with local business organizations or city governments looking for ways to help. Downtown Phoenix is expanding its traditional holiday market, Phoestivus, to use empty display cases to display the creations of local artisans as well as inventory from select retailers. Items displayed in storefronts can be purchased on smartphones using QR codes or other forms of contactless payment.
There are people who don’t come into city centres who live in their area and are surprised at how amazing it is, ”said Samantha Jackson, senior director of strategy and community affairs at the nonprofit Downtown Phoenix Inc.
Offer Your Skills
If you are an accountant, attorney, banker or digital marketer, to name a few, local businesses may need your help. For example, Kimberly Bardewala, who recently ran a company that organized mass sales of Broadway shows, was again worried that restaurants would suffer from the onset of cold weather.
Residents of Larchmont, New York, approached David Maslia, the owner of the city’s popular Encore Bistro, to regularly order fixed-price dinners for his neighborhood association. “We are all separated now, so it is important to restore our community,” she said.
Homeowners are under enormous, sometimes existential, stress right now, so engage in emotional support when you can. Ask retailers how they are doing and find out which employees may be out of work right now.