Supporting Independent Businesses in a Pandemic

It’s no secret that this pandemic has hit every single one of us very hard. With social distance measures in place, many small, local, independent businesses have had to close their doors and the financial implications of this are huge. Even with government support, many independent businesses may not survive the lock down. Whilst living through the lockdown people are being encouraged to go out for just the essentials which mostly means hit the shops which sell everything you need i.e supermarkets. This means little green grocers, and other essential independent shops aren’t as frequented. This coupled with the ease of online shopping and the speed of Amazon Prime, it is looking like there is going to be a massive financial boom for big businesses and a crippling loss for independent ones. Therefore, it is vital, now more than ever, to support small businesses and here are some easy ways to do just that…

  1. Order takeaways from local restaurants

For years and years I’ve had to restrain myself from ordering takeaways regularly as the implications on both my waistline and wallet were just too much but during the lockdown I am finding solace and comfort in good food. This coupled with the knowledge that the money I am paying for these delicious dishes is probably helping keep these businesses from closing their doors for good. Check out your fav local restaurant as even if they don’t normally do delivery, I bet they do now!

  1. Do your weekly food shop in local shops

Shopping in local shops is something that I believe you should do (if you can) even when we are not living through a pandemic as it avoids paying into big businesses that don’t really need your money. However, I have found that often the small, local shops such as green grocers, butchers, cheese-mongers etc  have some of the things that chain shops have sold out of. Remember the loo roll shortage? My local one stop shop was always well stocked! Struggling to find flour for your lock down bakes? Check out your local mini-mart! If you’re going to spend that money anyway, you might as well spend it in places that need it! Also, if you are self isolating, I have found that lots of smaller food shops are happy to do home deliveries if you just ask!

  1. Shop with independent businesses online

So many independent businesses have started a website or are now selling their goods through online retailers the lockdown, some are even selling goods over social media pages. This means it is still really easy to access small businesses and satisfy your shopping habits. From clothes, to jewelry, house plants to books. All of these things are available online, and not just from big places such as Amazon and Asos. Check out smaller retailers such as your local shops online services, or platforms such as Etsy of Depop. Curb your indoor plant addiction by looking for online start up businesses that can deliver straight to your door!

Also, remember that, now more than ever, you have more time to search for things that you really, really like and scrolling through Depop in search of the perfect pair of jeans is an excellent lock down activity! It is also a good habit to get into in that it avoids the fast fashion industry that is a massive contributor to climate change (an issue that shouldn’t be forgotten about even in these tricky times!)

  1. Send gifts to your far away loved ones

Much like everyone else, I am struggling with being so far away from many of my loved ones. The internet and telephone are doing wonders to keep us all connected, however these forms of communication can often feel impersonal. It is also a well known fact that everyone enjoys receiving unexpected letters and packages in the mail. Many independent artists sell cards and notelets with their art work on them which make for wonderful, personal modes of communication and you’ll gain a new pen pal! For parents and grandparents living far away and on their own, many small florists are offering delivery and many small farm shops can deliver veg boxes and handmade sweet treats. Not only is this a great way to financially support independent businesses, it’s also a lovely way to put a smile on your loved ones faces!

  1. Take, and pay, for online classes

With gyms closed and many of us working from home or furloughed, people seemingly have much more time on their hands and want to get crafty or learn a new skill. It’s pretty much understood that if you look hard enough, you can find out how to do anything on the internet. However, reading step by step instructions is not nearly as fun learning something new from someone who truly loves what they do. Obviously this is not possible to do in person at the moment, but many artists and sports instructors are running online classes. These are not just free classes on YouTube, but actual carefully planned sessions which are often interactive. Even though you may be able to access similar classes for free on the likes of YouTube, remember that the people who are running these online classes likely do not have another income and therefore if you pay for their classes, you are helping their businesses live on. Again, look at local. Many yoga, art, theatre studios and much more are running classes!

I guess the main takeaway from this post is that at the moment you do have time to shop around. You aren’t as limited by the 9-5 lifestyle and you aren’t spending money on commuting or pints at the pub. Remember that your money is lost in big businesses, but given to small businesses, it can be the difference between them surviving or closing down permanently. 

Photo by Tim Mossholder

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