As America shut down seemingly overnight with the spreading coronavirus pandemic, our local business community has acutely felt the loss of its customers and its community. As we experienced the peak of the coronavirus, terms such as global pandemic, physical distancing and shelter in place have become part of our everyday vocabulary. Businesses leaders feel like they’re navigating the unknown.
Restaurants - the first industry to be hit by the coronavirus, and hotels that were bustling until just a few months ago, preparing for patio weather and taking reservations for upcoming birthdays, celebrations or work-related events, now sit empty and unsure of when diners or guests will next pass through their doors.
Local gyms and day-care facilities which initially increased their cleaning regimens, had to make the difficult decision to close in the hopes that its only temporary.
Countless store fronts that relied heavily on foot traffic that isn’t there anymore are looking at their bottom lines, wondering how long they can weather the storm.
Our Chamber’s number one priority is to help our members navigate these uncertain times. We continue to implore our community to offer a strong show of support for our local businesses. Just as we are doing all we can to bring vital information to help keep businesses financially stable and strong through this crisis, we feel just as strong about supporting our community’s residents.
The safety measures that have forced us indoors and away from others to help flatten the curve and stop the spread of COVID-19 are working and continue to be the right thing to do. We’re confident our strength, resilience and community spirit will carry us through. But we also recognize our small business owners need us more than ever as they take their own precautions.
To emerge from this with our businesses strong and intact, we need to ensure that we continue to make them feel special – the donut shop up the street, the local print shop and our neighborhood restaurant, are all able to stay afloat. While we may not be able to fully give them our patronage in person right now, there is much we can do to show our support.
As an example, visit your favorite restaurant’s website and purchase gift cards for yourself and others to keep some money flowing to their bottom lines. If those restaurants are still offering takeout or delivery, make a point to order from them now and again soon.
If there is an opportunity to order online, make a purchase even if the goods won’t be available right away. If you’re shopping online for things you’ll need while in self-quarantine, like home exercise equipment or activities for your children, seek out local businesses to make these purchases.
If you use a service provider who won’t be needed or can’t provide that service right now – a dog walker, house cleaner, day care provider, a lawn service or any of the other folks who keep our lives in order and make them better – consider paying the person or company regardless so they’ll be there for you again when this is over.
Also, please visit the websites of your favorite local businesses, and you’ll find that many are offering discounts or telling their customers how they can assist. Many have gotten creative and have changed their business models to offer services remotely or shipping their merchandise to customers.
Though the Small Business Administration (SBA) has been providing opportunities for financial assistance for small businesses through its stimulus loan programs, much still feels out of our control. But there’s plenty we can do to help our local businesses survive this crisis. We’ve all seen the incredible efforts they’ve taken for us, from cleaning to limited hours to ample hand sanitizer at the checkout. Let’s do what we can for them.