Small businesses are doing it tough. 2020 kicked off with some of the most devastating bushfires Australia has ever seen. Towns across Australia, especially in regional areas, suffered huge property losses. Since many were effectively ‘no-go’ zones during the peak of the tourist season, local businesses took a huge financial hit.
No sooner had the weather cooled than COVID-19 hit. The resulting lockdowns saw small businesses shuttered across the country. This double blow means that local business needs our support more now than ever.
Local businesses are the life blood of a community. They bring jobs, growth and innovation to the area. They also give back to their communities by sponsoring local sports teams, running fundraisers, and helping to raise the profile of their region.
Here are five ways you can help support local business during these tough times.
1. Buy fresh food from local producers
Buy fresh fruit and veg from your local greengrocer: many will also sell locally-produced cheese and milk, along with various dry goods. Local butchers often have the best cuts of meat and are happy to offer cooking tips. Because your food hasn’t travelled as far, it will be higher quality and better tasting than the offerings from large supermarket chains.
2. Check who might be offering delivery
During the first lockdown, many businesses who don’t usually offer pick-up or delivery options switched to offering this service. And it’s not just limited to takeaway food. Greengrocers, butchers, florists and even local bookshops have continued to offer delivery services throughout the pandemic.
If you’re quarantining, limiting your outside shopping or just want to buy a gift for a friend, don’t limit yourself to the big department stores and supermarkets. Check your local shops first.
3. Buy gift cards for later
You may not feel safe going for a massage or out for a celebratory dinner just now. Purchasing a gift card is a way to support your local stores and give yourself something to look forward to at the same time. If you give a gift card to a friend, you’re also promoting awareness of the business and bringing them new custom that will help them into the future.
4. Promote local businesses to friends and family
If you’ve got a favourite cafe or experienced great service at your local hair salon, tell as many people as possible! Getting comments on that unique pair of earrings or new leather wallet? Share where you got it from and encourage the commenter to have a browse.
If you see that local businesses are running promotions or have new product lines, share with as many people as possible. Marketing campaigns are expensive and often beyond the reach of small businesses, so free word of mouth is a powerful way to help out.
5. Send a care package to a loved one
Many of us know someone who’s doing it tough right now. If you have relatives in aged care, friends stuck in the Victorian lockdown or people who can’t come and visit thanks to border restrictions, reach out. A bunch of fresh flowers, a few carefully chosen bottles of wine or a selection of local cheeses can put a smile on almost anyone’s face.
When times are hard, sticking together is the thing that will bring us through. If you want your local businesses to still be there on the other side, now is the time to support them.