Supporting local businesses, makers, nonprofits, and more is important 365 days a year (366 days in the case of 2020), but we want to put extra emphasis on that mission now, in the wake of COVID-19, which is causing major health concerns, upending our day-to-day norms, and damaging our economy. Here’s a roundup of ways you can help:
1. Think futuristically. Sure, you can’t buy tickets to a play or a concert that’s happening tomorrow. But can you make plans for the summer and fall? A venue like Cat’s Cradle already has tickets available for shows happening many weeks from now. Become a “season subscriber” at PlayMakers Repertory Company and catch many great productions this fall and beyond. Book a hotel and make an OpenTable or Resy dining reservation while you’re at it, for some date in the not-so-immediate future. You need something to look forward to – and those businesses need the boost ASAP.
2. Buy gift cards and gift certificates. Spend money with local businesses now – whether that’s a hair salon, a restaurant, an arts venue, a yoga studio, or a spa – but redeem later. You’ll pump money into our local economy and feel good about showing solidarity during these troubled times.
3. Skip Amazon and other major retailers. You can buy books from a local seller like Flyleaf Books, Epilogue, or Purple Crow – they will ship to you. Many local retailers and makers, like Whilden, are promoting the fact that they have items available online. Buy groceries from a farmers’ market. The food is healthy, and the environment offers you lots of personal space and fresh air. One new Carrboro-based company, OBX Granola, sells online. If you do go to a bigger grocer, look for local products there, such as coffee beans, cans of beer, chocolate bars, kombucha, jarred salsa, cheeses, and more.
4. Amplify businesses via your social media. These business owners need to feel the love. They also need extra visibility right now. Gush about products and services that are your go-tos. Hit that like button. Tell others to follow your favorite accounts. Leave positive reviews on Facebook and Yelp.
5. Order takeout. Even restaurants that you don’t normally think of as having this option will offer it during this unusual period. Some will bring the food to your car. We’ve seen social media posts from Oakleaf, Pizzeria Mercato, The Root Cellar, Venable, Imbibe, La Residence, Mel’s Commissary, Spotted Dog, Lula’s, Acme, and more. Some are offering discounts right now! Don’t forget your normal pizza or chicken wings delivery spot –they won’t be offended if you ask the driver to stay far back! Leave larger than normal tips if you can.
6. Think of transactions that can be done through a screen. This may be the perfect time to hire a local interior designer to help you figure out what rug should go in your living room. You can send photos and chat about the project via FaceTime! It also may be a great time to commission a local artist to paint a portrait of your dog. A local organizer can walk you through your garage cleanout without ever stepping foot on your property. Stop and consider all the ways you can do business locally without putting yourself or others at risk.
7. Stream local artists. No concerts will mean significant revenue losses for musicians. Stream their music – it will put money in their pocket and brighten your day. Consider supporting their Patreon accounts, too.
8. Check in on local nonprofits. Our most vulnerable populations are facing giant obstacles. This is the time to open our wallets – if we can – and help food banks, shelters, and more.
9. Listen to our local businesses. Check in on social media often. It might come down to GoFundMe campaigns in some cases, as employers look to support themselves and their teams during this unprecedented period – local businesses will tell us what they need and when. Let’s follow their lead.
10. Take care of yourself. We all do better when we all do better. So take the necessary precautions, practice self-care, get outside and clear your mind with a walk. Our community is only as strong as its weakest person, so please stay as well as you can!