From continuing memberships to purchasing gift cards, we're explaining how to keep your favorite mom and pop shops in business.

Nearly every single industry is being affected in some way by the coronavirus pandemic, but those taking the hardest hit are small businesses, which account for an estimated 45 percent of gross domestic profit, according to data collected by JPMorgan Chase & Co. "While large companies, like Bank of America and American Airlines, are the big blocks of our economy, our small businesses are the mortar—and without mortar, nothing can stand up," explains Trip Wheeler, president of SB Value, a company that buys food for caterers, concessionaires, and culinary professionals. "Without small businesses—such as local eateries, art galleries, coffee bars, craft breweries, daycares, carpenters, and electricians—we would lose the local flavor and richness that makes native businesses so vital."

smiling food truck owner taking credit card for payment from customer
Credit: Getty / Thomas Barwick

So, why is it so important that we support small businesses, especially right now, during their time of need? Not just because they need us to stay afloat, but because their staying afloat keeps our livelihood and sense of community alive. Here are six ways you can show your support for small businesses and help them weather COVID-19.

Continue Paying for Personal Services

If you can afford to, continue paying for personal services that you have canceled due to social distancing; these people would include your house cleaner or dog walker. "Likely, all of their revenue has dried up, and as far as we know, it will be very challenging (if not impossible) for self-employed people and contractors to access the unemployment benefits offered by the government," says Janice Carnevale, wedding planner and owner of Bellwether Events in Washington, D.C.

Purchase Gift Cards

Your favorite restaurant, clothing shop, or fitness studio might be shut down for the foreseeable future due to the coronavirus, but they will eventually open. To help them during this tough time, consider purchasing a gift card to use at a later date. Doing so allows these small businesses to get your money now, which could translate to staying in business another month or so, explains Angela DelGrosso, senior vice president of the Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Participate in Fundraisers

Many small businesses are crowdfunding to support their business as well as help the community, such as delivering food to hospitals. "A local bakery was doing this and due to the initial support, she was able to keep one of her employees on the payroll for an additional two weeks," says Carnevale. "Donating may not help the business hit their bottom line, but keeping employees engaged and active might at least improve their mental health for the time being."

Leave Good Reviews

Given the fact that small businesses work on a smaller scale than larger companies, they generally receive fewer reviews on platforms like Google and Yelp. "Consumers are always quick to shout it from the rooftops if they have a bad experience, but don't always think to leave a five-star review if they've had a good experience," explains Leah Weinberg, wedding planner and owner of Color Pop Events, in Long Island City, New York. That's why one of the most impactful things you can do for a small business you love right now, or any time, is to leave them a five-star review on various rating platforms. Weinberg recommends committing to writing one review a day for the duration of this quarantine. "It's going to be so critical for those businesses to emerge with a ton of positive (and recent) reviews to show future customers," she says.

Pick Up the Phone

It might sound simple, but just hearing from customers that they miss the services a small business provides can go a long way in boosting their morale and motivation to get back up and running when the time is right. "Every small business is run by people, and right now they are hurting, stressed, and many [are] even worried about providing for their family," says Wheeler. "A simple note or call of support will remind them that they matter and that their community has their back."

Get Social

Something that is extremely valuable without spending a dollar is jumping on your computer and spreading some love, notes DelGrosso. She recommends hopping onto the social platforms you frequent and showing your favorite small business some love. "Like their page on Facebook, follow them on Instagram, share and like their posts, invite friends to like their pages and tag them in posts letting them know you're thinking about them," she says.


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