Shop locally to support your neighbors

One of the biggest casualties of the pandemic is the locally owned small business.

Do your part this holiday season to help them stay in business. Here’s how:

Stop ordering everything from Amazon. Check on Main Street for businesses that sell the same items you buy online. Even if they’re not open yet, they’re probably taking online and telephone orders. Buy the bulk of your holiday gifts, decorations and food from locals.

Go to farmer’s markets. Many of them stayed open during the pandemic, and now is the time to repay the favor. Some are allowing customers to pre-order. How great would a fresh turkey from a local farm taste during your Thanksgiving feasts? What could be better than fresh, locally grown vegetables as side dishes and pies homemade by someone with a business right down the street from your home?

Shop for the holidays and beyond. As long as you’re shopping, think about the birthday and anniversary gifts you’ll need over the next year—and buy them now. That way, you’ll give some local businesses a boost when they need it the most. Plus, you’ll be prepared when it’s time to wrap those gifts up later.

Invest in gift cards. Buying gift cards now to spend once the economy improves infuses your favorite small business with cash at a time when it might be cash-strapped. You would spend the money anyway; why not do it in advance if you can afford it now?

Order carry-out. Start buying your morning coffee from a local café instead of from a national chain store. Find a favorite restaurant with outdoor dining and go there with your family whenever you’re feeling like a socially distanced evening on the town. Pick up carry-out from a locally owned diner a little more often than you ordinarily would.

Write a review. Get on Yelp and on the website of your favorite businesses and talk them up. Online reviews go a long way toward attracting customers. It will take you just a minute to post a rave review that might just save someone who lives in your community from shuttering a neighborhood institution.