5 ways to help small businesses recover from the pandemic

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, communities around the U.S. rallied to help small businesses by launching “shop local” initiatives, purchasing gift cards and starting fundraising campaigns.

Now that states have begun to roll back social distancing restrictions and vaccination rates continue to climb, small businesses still need continued support.

“When we shop local, the statistics have shown us that more money is put into your community, which you then benefit from,” says Ash Cintas, founder of City Shoppe, an e-commerce platform serving local retailers and products in multiple cities.

Every dollar that’s spent locally helps businesses get through this challenging time so that we keep our communities and the character of our cities, she says.

We talked to small-business owners to find out how consumers can best support them as they slowly transition out of the pandemic. Here are five of their tips:

1. Change your mindset

Put small, local businesses at the forefront of your mind — and your shopping list. Although large retailers like Amazon or Walmart offer speed and convenience, ask yourself, “Can I purchase this from a small business instead?” Patrick Connelly, co-founder of Stellar Villa, said in an email.

2. Do your research

Explore your local area, browse for small businesses online and, if you travel, check out the businesses in those areas too.

3. Tell a friend

Don’t underestimate the power of word-of-mouth marketing. Tell your friends, family members and co-workers about your favorite small and local businesses — and suggest that they do the same.

4. Get digital

Instead of just following your favorite small businesses online, share them with your own followers. If you have a particularly enjoyable visit or purchase, create a post and be sure to tag the business.

5. Think creatively

If a shop near you is struggling, consider launching a fundraising campaign, volunteering to set up a booth or sell goods at a flea or farmers market, donating your professional skills or helping to organize an event in support of small businesses in your area.

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