Supporting Small Businesses During COVID-19

Brian Hughes |

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, really do need our support. 

COVID-19 and the ensuing shut down 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, exactly 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:

Shop Local

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 a lot of 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 give them the opportunity to serve you as they need your business.   

Gift Cards

A lot of 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 go 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. 

Be Patient

The last 6 weeks have been an adjustment for everyone, and that adjustment period is still evolving.  From consumers figuring out how to live and spend while staying safe, to restaurants learning how to operate with capacity limits and adjusted staffing levels, businesses will be operating under brand new service models.  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 is going to 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 small business week, in spirit it should be.  COVID-19 and the ensuing economic repression has 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.