Bay Area Coronavirus Outbreak |
Here are a few ways you can help support local small businesses amidst the COVID-19 outbreak
Bay Area right now is one of the hot zones for the Coronavirus outbreaks in the US. This whole thing feels unreal, unprecedented and almost like an out of body experience.
In my 33 yrs. of life, not once did I think we’d be living in self-quarantine and socially distancing ourselves like this from our extended families, neighbors and friends. Not once did I think that schools would shut down for an extended period of time with no clarity on when they would start again. Not once did I think that that this would impact my business. But all of this is happening. It is real and not to be taken lightly if we want our normal lives back anytime soon.
And while this might resolve over time, the current public health crisis will impact small businesses and those that are self-employed the most. Experts say that a small business owner will feel the impact of this on their business for the next 12-18 months. It’s not just going to “go away” for them once the pandemic is under control. Not every small business owner or self-employed one-man army is working with huge margins or have savings to help them with rent and utilities for months to come. They rely on monthly sales and steady income to feed their families, pay the bills and afford healthcare. They also don’t qualify for a lot of the unemployment benefits that the government offers and loss of business insurance doesn’t cover virus outbreaks. That said, there are a few things that you can do now, which will help them stay above water just enough till things get better.
I’ve shared a few ideas and ways you can help them in today’s world of social distancing. If you’re a small business owner, and there’s something I missed out that might support your business, please let me know. If you are a consumer, I’d love to hear what you are doing to help your favorite store/restaurant/artist/vendor/one-man-army!
1. Support your local neighborhood stores:
Skip the long lines and maddening crowds at big box stores and head to your local mart for everyday supplies. Many of them are fully stocked with bread, rice, flour and pasta.. some even have toilet paper! (PS: Pls be mindful of fellow humans and do not hoard unnecessary supplies. Planning for 2 weeks at a time is recommended and will make sure there’s enough supply to meet the demand of the Bay Area residents )
2. Order grocery delivery from local farms:
I know a lot of the farmers markets are closing down but this does not mean that the farms and grocers participating are all shutting shop too. Many have started offering online ordering and free home delivery for fresh local fruits and vegetables. Avoid buying at big chain stores, you need fresh local fruits and vegetables to keep yourselves healthy and fight this coronavirus outbreak happening in the Bay Area (and the rest of the country), not the stuff that’s coming to you from cold storages a 1000 miles away.
3. Curbside pickup from restaurants or maybe even a gift certificate-
If there’s one thing a small business owner will go above and beyond on, it’s customer service and cleanliness (I know this because my studio is like my place of worship and keep it as sterile as is possible). A lot of the local restaurants have set up curbside pickups so you can order over the phone and pick up food while still practicing social distancing. If you’re unsure whether your fav restaurant offers that, pick up the phone and give them call. They will happily oblige and make sure your experience with their restaurant/café is as great as it has always been. Don’t want to eat out, buy a gift certificate and use it in a few months to treat family and friends.
Café’s are also happy to ship you coffee beans if you’d rather not drink coffee outside. Consider buying ground coffee or beans from your preferred café so that you can have it at home anytime you like!
4. Order that book you really want from the local bookstore instead:
Same as with restaurants, call your fav book store and ask them to have the books you really want to read ready for you to pick up. They will be happy to pick them out for you and ready to checkout at the store. If you’re really limiting going inside the store, request a curbside pick up and pay with cash. Small business owners have super powers that big chain stores don’t- The power of customizing their client experience to their client’s needs.
5. Buy a gift certificate for a future portrait session with your favorite photographer:
Don’t be sad about skipping newborn pictures right now. Instead, plan a milestone session to capture your baby when they start to sit or turn one. Not only will advance planning a session like this allow you to work with an artist whose work you love and really want to support but I can tell you as a photographer myself, the artist will go over and beyond to make sure every single detail about your portrait experience is flawless- they will know how long you’ve waited for this. I always try my best to make every photo session an experience for my clients so that when you see those portraits hanging in your home, you’re always reminded of the fun you had as a family on the day of the session.
If you have older kids or older parents, buy a gift certificate to do a family session in the fall instead. These tough times have taught us all how much we love our family and the extent we will go to protect them. So why not celebrate them and create memories when the dust settles down!
6. Celebrate birthdays and occasions by sending fresh flowers from local florists:
Social distancing means no more in person celebrations but that doesn’t stop you from sending flowers to your loved ones to show them that you’re still thinking of them. All local florists would be more than happy to accept your phone/online order and deliver to your loved ones. I bet those fresh flowers in their home will make their self-quarantine look a lot more cheery!
7. Continue paying your monthly dues for your trainer or join e-exercise classes to help your local gyms and personal trainers:
If you can afford to, please continue paying your monthly dues to the gym or workout group you participate in. Many of them are closing for weeks per county recommendations but still need to be financially viable. Gyms and personal training studios are now offering online workouts to help you exercise at home. I know of a few mommy & me exercise groups that have moved their classes online and will be perfect esp. as you can now workout as a family together, in the comfort your home. Join these e-classes and still buy that monthly membership to help them sail through this.
8. Pay your nanny/babysitter/house cleaner so they can stay at home and take care of their health and kids:
If you’re working from home, please consider letting your nanny or baby sitter keep coming. They are your “village” and have probably spent more hours in a day with your child than you have in recent times. Treat them like family, talk to them about the current bay area coronavirus outbreak like you would with your family, establish dos and don’ts of social distancing and emphasize how it is important for them to follow these so you can trust them to be around your child. This is their only source of income and they will go above and beyond to make sure they are following your rules to keep your little one safe. If they have kids of their own, like my house cleaner does, or you really would like them to not come to your house right now please still pay them their monthly salary. They need your support more than ever before.
9. Tip generously- whether its your server at a café or your Instacart shopper:
While tips don’t really impact the bottom line of a restaurant, café or a company, it does play a huge role in spreading the sense of goodwill and community. If you use an online grocery delivery service like Instacart, please tip your shopper generously- they braved crazy lines at supermarkets to get you your order so you can be away from germs.
10. Be a keyboard savior:
If you are really anxious about any human interaction and don’t want to eat out or have someone deliver grocery to you, there’s still a few things you can do to! Support your favorite restaurants by writing them a Google or a yelp review. Give your favorite photographer or florist a shout out on social media and share their business with your social media friends.
11. And most importantly, check on them and let them know you’re thinking of them:
Reach to them and ask how they are doing. Being a one-woman business, I often feel like no one cares about what I’m doing and how I’m holding up in general. These feelings right now are multiplied times 100 given all the uncertainty in today’s world. Reaching out, whether by phone or a short email, will mean the world to a small business owner like me. So even if you don’t do any of the things I mentioned above, do this one. Reach out to someone who runs her own salon, a local café owner in your neighborhood, a friend that sells essential oils to supplement her family’s income or a photographer who you want to work with and remind them that this too shall pass!
Stay healthy everyone and wash your hands!
PS: If there’s anything that I’ve missed out or if you want to say hi, feel free to reach me here or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org