Ask a small business owner how they’re doing right now, and the answer will vary by the moment. A constantly swirling mix of frustrated, hopeful, exhausted, and inspired carries us through each day, and with the holidays coming in the midst of mitigation measures, I don’t see it changing! While there is a full spectrum of ideas on how best to safely serve our communities in light of a global pandemic, it comes down to this: small businesses need your loyalty and support more than ever. Here are some practical ways to support small businesses this holiday season, Eli’s included.
- Think outside the Big Box. Everyone’s finances are tighter than usual, and we never want you to spend beyond your means. If you’re choosing to eat out or buy a gift though, see if you can send those dollars to a local business. It may take you a few more stops, but between a local kitchen store, a small boutique, the comic book/game shop down the street, or your local hardware store, you can avoid or lessen a big tab at Target or Walmart.
- Brag them up. Just because you know that the best watercolor art comes out of Metamora, IL or the most lovely home decor comes from Tremont, IL, or the most exotic plants live in Morton, IL doesn’t mean your neighbor does. Share the places you love loud and proud on social media or in conversations this time of year! It helps us build a strong community of support. Small businesses spend a fortune on marketing when simple word-of-mouth can do the trick.
- Buy now, spend later. Gift cards were the best invention for a small business. Imagine crowd-funding interest-free loans to small businesses. That’s the power of a gift card. If you know you plan to support a shop in the future and can afford it now, buy a gift card. Redeem it in a few months when things are hopefully less turbulent for them.
- Send them kindness. So often we only hear the bad stuff. It’s easy to imagine you’re only as good as your last review on Google when that’s the only feedback you get. Take a moment to write a positive (and honest!) public review, or send a heartfelt private message.
- Buy in season. Keep an eye out for their seasonal specials and sales. Businesses are leaning in right now, ordering new merchandise, taking a huge financial risk on new product in the hopes of a holiday payoff. Take a moment to check out their holiday menu, curated gift boxes, etc for some fresh ideas for gifting.
Wherever you find yourself and your family right now, I truly hope you can find one or two of these ways to support small businesses to implement. Every local shop owner I know is giving it their all over the next seven weeks. They’re praying their mental, emotional, and physical effort is worth the hard, hard work.
Much love as you navigate this holiday season. I can promise there is lots to look forward to at Eli’s!