Support local businesses in different ways as times get tough

Take a rain cheque, buy a gift certificate, write a review, go online, and more

The COVID-19 virus has affected businesses large and small, with many having had to close their doors, downscale their operations, cancel appointments, and start to work remotely where possible. It’s impacting businesses that people interact with and depend on every day, from visible ones like restaurants to other, less obvious, ones like dentists, accountants, and contractors.

By closing their doors or making changes temporarily, businesses are helping to keep their customers and employees healthy. However, the loss of income is making things difficult for businesses and their employees, and they need support to help them make it through these uncertain times.

Here are some tips on how you can support local businesses, whether they’re open, closed, operating limited hours, or scaling back services, with or without spending money.

Buy a gift card for later: Many small businesses that have had to close are offering gift certificates at discounted rates for when they reopen. Look on their websites and social media accounts for details.

Skip the refund and take a rain cheque: If you paid in advance for an event, class, or service, consider taking a credit for the future instead of asking for a refund. These businesses will appreciate not needing to issue so many refunds right now.

Commit to future work: While right now may not be the best time to start that home renovation project, your contractor will appreciate you committing to future projects when the business reopens. The same goes for any future event or project, so call now and make arrangements for later.

Shop (local) online: Local shops and vendors may have closed their (physical) doors, but many still run online shops. Look for them on social media or check their website for links to their online marketplace.

Look for virtual classes: Many people who work in training or professional development are finding creative ways to move their instruction online. Even though your local gym is closed, your favourite yoga teacher may be hosting a live class online. The same goes for people who offer professional training. Now may be a good time to brush up on your skills through an online course.

Get takeout or delivery: Many restaurants that have had to close their dining rooms are now offering takeout and/or delivery. Support these local businesses by getting your food or drinks to-go and enjoying them at home.

Not everyone has the financial resources to pay for something in advance. If your own wallet is feeling the pinch, here are some free ways to support our local businesses:

Write an online review: If you’re social distancing or self-isolating at home, this is a good time to finally get around to reviewing your favourite local businesses. These five-star reviews help companies rank well in search engines and on other listing services. This is an easy, free way to show your favourite businesses that you support them.

Like and share on social media: Help your favourite business reach a broader audience by liking and sharing their information on social media. This will help them reach future customers and gain more exposure.

Tell your businesses that you appreciate their work: These are tough times! Keep morale up by reaching out to the businesses in your community and letting them know that you appreciate their hard work.

When life starts getting back to normal, remember the local businesses that were open to help you avoid unnecessary trips to larger centres, and give them your support.

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