There are plenty of good reasons to support small businesses. For one, it helps stimulate the local economy. That means more jobs and tourist dollars to keep the community thriving. Plus, shopping small helps keep businesses competitive and spurs innovation. And if you appreciate friendly, personalized customer service, you’re more likely to find it at a local shop than a mega-retailer.
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The best way to support small businesses is to purchase directly from them. Before clicking “buy” on your Amazon cart or heading to a big-box chain, find out if there’s a similar option from a nearby mom-and-pop. It may cost you a couple more bucks, but you’ll help sustain the community and cut down your carbon footprint.
Also, if you’re getting takeout, try ordering directly from the restaurant. Delivery services such as Uber Eats and Doordash take a huge cut of their profits (and appear to employ some other shady practices, too). Bonus: You’ll save money on fees.
Want to go above and beyond? We reached out to business owners and experts to find out more easy ways to support small businesses, including a few options that don’t require spending any money.
Purchase Gift Cards
The service industry (restaurants, salons, hotels, etc.) was hit especially hard by the coronavirus pandemic and is more difficult to reopen based on COVID-19 restrictions.
“Purchasing gift cards is a great way to support your favorite small businesses while they may not be able to reopen, or are open at a reduced capacity,” said Steve Allocca, COO at BlueVine, a banking platform for small and mid-size businesses. “It also signals support for your local businesses and provides much-appreciated cash flow.” If you can’t make it to the physical location, many stores offer the option to buy and redeem them online.
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Tell Your Friends
Word-of-mouth is a powerful marketing tool. So if you have a favorite small biz, be sure to let friends and family know about it. “Advertising costs money, and most small businesses are struggling to stay afloat,” said Bonny Albo, an entrepreneurship educator, writer and business owner. “By sharing with people the business might not otherwise have access to, you’re helping them widen their reach and improve their public image.”
Engage on Social Media
Another free way to help small businesses is by engaging with them on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. “If you love shopping at a local boutique or love your neighborhood Italian restaurant’s new outdoor parklet dining situation, snap a photo and post it to Instagram,” Allocca said. “Be sure to tag the business.”
It might not seem like much, but the impact can be huge. One example: 200 million Instagram users visit at least one business profile daily, and 81% use the platform to help research products and services.
Leave a Positive Review
Google your favorite small businesses and leave a review on their Google Business Page. Your comments will show up on the right side of search result pages when others Google the business name. “These reviews really help bring in new customers, and it helps the website show up higher in local search results,” said Meaghan Thomas, a former marketing executive turned small business owner. Other ways you can support a small business with reviews: Leave product reviews on its website and rate the business on Yelp, Thomas added.
Join Their Email List
Another way is to sign up for the business’ email list and open every email it sends you and click the links. “This will help with their open and click rates in their email service platform,” said business coach Brittany Michele Cole. She explained that this is particularly helpful if they are experiencing issues with emails going to spam or not being delivered on time. Plus, you can stay on top of promotions and events.
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