Supporting Small Businesses During COVID-19
The first week in May typically celebrates National Small Business Week, where we recognize and celebrate the small businesses in our area and their contributions to our economy. Unfortunately, like so many other events, National Small Business Week has been postponed until further notice by the Small Business Administration due to this disease. It is unfortunate because in the wake of COVID-19, small businesses in my hometown of Jacksonville, Florida and all around the United States do need our support.
COVID-19 and the ensuing shut down shutdown and social distancing measures have ground many areas of the economy to a near halt and undoubtedly devastated many small businesses. By one report, roughly half of small businesses had enough cash to last only 27 days if they stopped bringing in revenue. Whether by coincidence or not, precisely 27 days after Florida’s April 3rd stay at home directions, Governor Ron Desantis signed a decree laying out steps for phase 1 of re-opening the economy. As the lights come back on in local shops and restaurants, here are a few ways you can help our Northeast Florida businesses:
It is incredibly easy to click a few buttons on Amazon and have the box of goodies show up at the door. In fact, I think most of us could build a pretty legitimate-looking fortress just out of the delivery boxes from Amazon we’ve received over the last month. That doesn’t help our small businesses, though. I have seen many restaurants and shops quickly adapting to the changing times by offering contactless pickup and online ordering. It may be easier to order on Amazon from the comfort of your couch, but if it’s an item you can get from a local store, contact that store and allow them to serve you as they need your business.
Many folks rightly are worried about their safety in going out to eat or going shopping. You can still support your local haunts without visiting them by buying gift cards. For example, my wife picked up a gift card for a local escape room. Once we escape the quarantine, we’ll get hopelessly trapped in another room together. The escape room business gets the money now when they need it, and we will redeem it later when it is allowed. That is a win-win.
The last six weeks have been an adjustment for everyone, and that adjustment period is still evolving. Businesses will be operating under brand new service models from consumers figuring out how to live and spend while staying safe to restaurants and learning how to work with capacity limits and adjusted staffing levels. If you have ever been to a restaurant the first week it has opened, you will know, not everything goes smoothly right away. That is how I think this next phase will be for a lot of businesses. Remember, companies want to do a good job for you; they want to earn your business. Be patient, though; they need to re-learn how to do that while staying safe.
Find Farmers to Support
When I am pushing the shopping cart down poorly stocked aisles at the grocery store, it’s hard to believe that farmers are having a tough time selling their crops, eggs, and milk, but that is the case. A lot of farmers sell to restaurants and schools, not grocery stores. As demand has shifted, farmers are having to face the possibility of destroying their crops. We can help by buying directly from the farm. Search and follow local farms on Facebook as they announce dates and locations where they will be selling their produce. You-pick days at farms are also great healthy outdoor activities for families.
Even though it is technically not a small business week, in spirit, it should be. COVID-19 and the ensuing economic repression have hit the economy hard. As the economy starts to re-open, follow the rules, focus on your health, and go out of your way to help our local businesses. If you have other ideas about how to help small businesses during this time, we would love to hear them. Follow us on Facebook to comment on this and our other blog posts.
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