The locally-owned businesses in our community are amazing.
They have all had to use creativity, technology, perseverance, and hard work to pivot their businesses to continue to serve our community from the first days of this pandemic.
Local business owners have had to step out of their comfort zone to offer everything from takeout and outdoor seating to virtual classes and drive up service.
But now — six months and counting into the pandemic — these businesses are still struggling. Some even more so as funds from the paycheck protection program and small business loans have dried up.
The pressure they are under is immense as they fight to stay open during this unprecedented year that no one could have anticipated.
Macaroni Kid wants to support local businesses, so recently we asked a few about how we can support them. Here are five ideas they gave us:
1. Understand product availability might be limited
The supply chain for everything from food to flowers to bicycle parts has been disrupted or slowed due to any number of factors involving the pandemic. So have patience with your local businesses as their ability to meet your needs might be impacted by interruptions in their supply chain.
2. Be kind
Businesses are dealing with quickly changing regulations and requirements due to COVID. The best thing we can all do is follow the directions given by the business and remember that employees are doing the best they can in difficult circumstances. They know you are frustrated — and, boy, do they get it. But taking it out on them or trying to circumvent the rules isn't fair to them. So be kind. Be patient. Offer as much grace as you can muster.
3. Keep reservations
Many restaurants, attractions, and even some retail stores are operating as reservation only right now and because of regulations don't have much wiggle room in how many reservations they can take. So do your best not to cancel or show up late. Canceling or being tardy can throw off their carefully organized seating plans, for instance. Or asking for a refund for a class you registered for but did not attend can whittle down the already small profit businesses and organizations were hoping to make.
4. Share your experience
Leave good reviews for local businesses on social media sites and apps like Yelp. Share your experience with friends and family. Like and share their posts on Facebook or other social media channels. Be an ambassador for our local businesses.
5. Buy local!
Whenever you are making a purchase, consider whether you can buy that item from a local business. Independent retailers return more than three times as much money than a chain store. And if you're shopping online? Your community will hardly see a dime. So make purchases deliberately. Every dollar you spend at a local business matters both to them and to the strength of your community.
Remember: When you support a small business, you are supporting a dream.
Katy Agro Myers is the publisher of Macaroni Kid Pasadena-Severna Park, Md.