The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is reminding residents to continue supporting local businesses in whatever way they can during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We know small businesses form the backbone of our economy,” said Shawna-Kay Thomas, a communications specialist with BBB. “If we, as consumers, can help them get through this time, they can bounce back easier after this crisis has eased, and we’re able to out and about.
“Without our support, it becomes very difficult to get started up again. We want our economy to grow through and after this crisis, so it’s important to find ways to support these businesses.”
With government orders to stay home and urges to practise social distancing, many small businesses – in various industries – have been forced to shut up shop, while others have had to find creative ways to stay open, while implementing new safety measures for employees and customers.
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“They’ve had to make tough decisions to lay off staff or minimize their opening hours, or they’ve had to change their business models,” Thomas said. “As consumers, we have to help small businesses, and you can do this with or without cash.”
One easy way to support businesses without spending money, according to Thomas, is to provide a positive review for that company online.
“Online reviews play a great role in consumers [finding out about] businesses and making decisions on what businesses they want to engage with and buy products from,” she said.
Another easy way to support local business without spending money is to promote those businesses on social media. Thomas said doing so is an easy way to boost that company’s reputation, as well as its exposure to prospective customers.
“You can share something they have posted or write your own post and just tag them,” she said. “That will increase the audience their social media pages reach and people will get to know about them – future consumers will be able to find them.”
A third way to support local businesses without opening your wallet, Thomas added, is to simply call them and let them know you appreciate their services.
For consumers who are able to support businesses financially, Thomas said purchasing gift cards is one way to do so.
“Many businesses are selling gift cards and you can use those cards in the future, or you can give it to someone and they can use it now, when they’re shopping online,” she said.
Speaking of online, Thomas added, many local businesses that have had to close their physical stores are still offering products or services online. She said consumers should check out their favourite stores’ website to see if they offer online shopping.
That said, Thomas stressed online shoppers should make sure they’re using the legitimate website for the company – not just an ad that pops up in your email.
Finally, Thomas said many restaurants are still offering delivery and takeout service, and consumers should check online to see what their favourite restaurants are offering.