Are you looking for ways to support local business? That's something we're always advocating, but in the midst of stay at home orders due to the current pandemic it's even more important than ever! Why support local? Locally-owned and operated businesses are the heart and soul of a community, especially the type of communities found in Morgan County. Our local communities are more small town than big city - we know one another, including those who own and operated businesses among us. Some of those businesses have been a vital part of our communities for close to (or over) 100 years!
It's never been more important to support your friends and neighbors who own local businesses than it is right now. They've supported the community through youth sports sponsorships, festival and event sponsorships and donations to worthwhile causes, and now it's our turn to support them. Whether those businesses are restaurants, retail or service oriented, we have to support them to make sure they'll still be around this time next year. Here are more than a dozen different ways you can help support local businesses.
- Buy gift cards for use at a later date. This is the easiest, most immediate way to help - and it works for almost all types of businesses! Gift card purchases now get cash into the hands of business owners, and you can enjoy the purchase at a later date. This is perfect for those who have special occasions later in the year - you'll already be prepared to celebrate!
- Shop online. You can still shop local from your home - check out our list of local Morgan County businesses with online shopping capabilities. You can even have your purchases shipped directly to a gift recipient in another town. Purchase logo merchandise from restaurants, or branded sauces or spices, if you aren't in town and able to do take out orders.
- Purchase via delivery, curbside service or pick up. Commit to ordering from a locally owned restaurant once or twice per week if you can. Splurge on a special meal to celebrate a birthday or anniversary. Don't forget about non-food businesses as well - many businesses are offering curbside pickup on gift items, or activities and books for the kids.
- Continue to tip! Tip a larger percentage than normal, if possible. Every little bit helps at this point.
- Before you order online from retail giants, stop to think about whether you can get what you need locally instead. Local purchases mean more money in our local economy, and it's more likely to stay here than to go to a corporate headquarters in another state!
- Follow local businesses on social media and share their content. Even if you're not able to spend money right now, you can help get their message out to others who may be in a better financial situation. Share posts or tag friends who might be interested, leave a comment or like a photo. More engagement means more people are reached by each post.
- Keep an eye out for innovations - are local businesses now offering classes online or different services than normal? Take advantage if you can or help spread the word!
- Continue to pay for your memberships, even if you can't currently use them. If your budget can handle continued fees for local memberships and subscription services you're already used to paying, that's a great way to show your continued support to those business owners.
- If you've already paid for a class that's been cancelled or postponed, don't accept the refund. See if you can apply it to a future class instead, or simply consider it a donation.
- Leave a positive review! Life happens fast, and normally we're all so busy we may not have time to leave reviews on sites like Yelp, Trip Advisor, Facebook or Google. Take a few minutes out of each week, or day, to leave a positive review for a local business. This will help them rise to the top of the list on those sites, which are used by many to make decisions about where to eat, shop or visit. (Plus, it's a great ego-boost for business owners who may really appreciate the positive feedback during this time.) Once it's safe to travel again, visitors passing through will use your reviews to decide where to eat or what to do in our area.
- If you see a great idea or promotion from an out of town business that you think would be a great example for a local owner, share it with them!
- Don't cancel - reschedule. That way, your deposit is still in play for that business owner and you're showing your support both now and in the future!
- Contact your local, state and federal elected officials. Make sure they know how important small businesses are to you and your community! Not sure who your elected officials are or how to contact them? Find out here. (All you need is your address.)
- Commit to future spending. Make a plan to visit local businesses as soon as the stay at home order is lifted (or as soon as you're financially able). If we all commit to buying local once its safe to do so, it will provide a increase in income for those business owners to help make up for losses over the past few weeks. Start making a list now for what you plan to purchase! (Bonus, this is a fun activity to keep the kids busy as well - almost like making a Christmas list!)
- Say thank you. Express your appreciation to local business owners. It may not help them financially, but it will be a big help to them mentally and emotionally to know that they have your support, even if it's not necessarily financial.
- Don't forget to order your Morgan County Loves Local t-shirt! Net proceeds will be used for grants to small locally owned businesses in our area, particularly those in the hospitality industry that may not qualify for other assistance.
These small businesses are the lifeblood of our local communities - make sure they know we stand with them during this difficult time. We're #INthistogether and we're #MorganCountyStrong!