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Shopping Local & Supporting Small Business

An edited and re-post WORTH giving attention to. PLEASE think about your local-area small businesses. They know you and serve you day in and day out. And they need your support.

By now the COVID-19 virus has impacted hundreds (if not thousands) of small businesses in our community. People are postponing travel plans, they are not spending their dollars on local restaurants or retail – and are canceling events left and right. This is wreaking havoc on small businesses.

Imagine that you are an event entertainer or venue or event rental company (or janitor or hourly employee) and you make your income solely from events and that this weekend alone you had seven events cancel on you. Now what? Imagine that you are a local restaurant (or server), but people are staying home instead of dining out. Now what? Imagine that you are a boutique hotel or a travel agency, but no one is traveling. Now what? Imagine that you are a local clothing boutique, but people are worried about buying anything beyond absolute necessities at the moment. Now what?

There are hundreds of small businesses in varying industries who are feeling the immediate impact from COVID-19. Even if we can’t step in and support these businesses right this moment – it’s important to support them whenever possible and as soon as our country and community stabilizes from the outbreak. In fact, there are many you CAN support right away. Today! Because the reality is that we need these local businesses to stay afloat to keep our community strong. Small businesses provide opportunities for entrepreneurs and create meaningful jobs. They foster the local economy – by keeping money close to home and supporting our neighborhoods and local organizations. Small business is SO important.

As soon as the outbreak runs its course – we encourage you to consider keeping your dollars local whenever possible, in order to help these small businesses bounce back. Because for small businesses – every dollar counts and ultimately benefits the community we live in.

Today, you can order out for food. you can have groceries delivered. You can conduct business by phone and over computer screen.

Here are more tangible ways to support local after COVID-19 has run it’s course:

Shop Local: Instead of buying from big box stores (I know, I know… it’s convenient…) – consider seeing if that product is sold locally (even if it costs a few dollars more). Not only does that help a small business, but it also helps the environment by reducing the amount of packaging materials and the impact that expedited shipping can have on the earth.

Community Events: When we can once again get out and move about, attend local community events. A lot of planning and efforts go into community events and they are a great way to get out and support local businesses. Many local events will hire locally sourced entertainment (ie: face painters, character companies, photographers, balloon artists, musicians, etc) and also hire local event rental companies for things like table linens, microphones, photo booths – you name it. Local events keep money circulating in our local economy and are a great opportunity for you to have fun with your families while being involved community events.

Eat Local: Buy locally sourced food (at a farmers’ market or grocery store) or eat at restaurants that support our local farmers. This offers higher quality food and more sustainability while reducing the carbon footprint that food can have on our environment.

Bank Local: Another way to keep your money in your community is to literally keep your money at a local community bank or credit union. Generally you will receive lower costs and better service while supporting the local economy.

Invite Friends + Family to Visit when we can: Whether or not our city is a hot spot for tourism, there is no doubt that there is plenty to do here! Have them stay at your house – or when possible (or necessary), encourage them to book at one of our local hotels. There are several that are locally owned or managed.

Subscribe to Your Local Paper: Local news adds value to your community by supporting local businesses through news and publicity. They rely heavily on readership and advertising dollars to operate. It’s no doubt that their advertising dollars may take a large hit from this, as their advertisers are forced to readjust marketing budgets.

Do you want to support local businesses RIGHT NOW?

Consider purchasing gift certificates to your favorite shops, restaurants or businesses that rely heavily on foot traffic (ie: museums, trampoline parks, gyms, etc) that you could either gift to a friend (or keep for yourself!). Call it “Early holiday shopping.” Or consider planning a fall or summer event or birthday party. This will help the bottom line of these small businesses while they try to stay on their feet and recover!

Thanks for considering and engaging Small and local businesses. You know each other. You see each other. You are the lifeblood of the community.

Tom McManimon is a small business entrepreneur and Committee leader to The Princeton Mercer Chamber of Commerce Independent Business Alliance