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Among those hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic are small businesses. In rural areas, including those served by Trinity Valley Electric Cooperative, small businesses are often the lifeline of local commerce.
You can do your part this holiday season to help our area small businesses stay open. Here are some ideas to get you going.
Stop ordering everything online. Check Main Street for businesses that sell the same items you typically buy online. Even if they’re still not open, some local shops are taking online and phone orders. Buy the bulk of your holiday gifts, decorations and food from local merchants. If you must order online, consider offering a small holiday bonus to delivery drivers.
Go to farmers markets. Many stayed open during the pandemic, and now is the time to repay the favor. Some are allowing customers to preorder over the phone or online, which decreases in-person contact. How great would a fresh lamb roast from a local farm taste during your Christmas feast? What could be better than fresh, locally grown vegetables as side dishes and pies baked by someone with a business right down the street from you?
Shop for the holidays and beyond. As long as you’re shopping for Christmas, think about 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 up those gifts later.
Invest in gift cards. You would spend the money anyway; why not do it in advance if you can afford it now?
Order carryout. Start buying your morning coffee from a local café instead of from a national chain. Find a favorite restaurant with outdoor dining and go there with your family whenever you feel like a socially distanced evening on the town. Pick up carryout from a locally owned diner a little more often than you ordinarily would, if you’re able.
Write a review. Get on Yelp, Google Reviews and the websites of your favorite businesses and talk them up when they do a good job. Online reviews go a long way toward attracting more 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.
Offer generous tips. Show service providers your gratitude by tucking a generous tip into a Christmas card. One alternative to a cash gratuity is to send a gift card for a local business.
Or you can drop off a big ham before Christmas or leave a stocking stuffed with gift cards and other goodies on the front porch of someone such as your nail technician, housekeeper or barber, even—and maybe especially—if they no longer work for you.
Remember your employees. Even though you might be working at home instead of in the office, the administrative staff you rely on—and who typically get a big thank-you tip from the staff at the holidays—still work on your behalf. Don’t let “out of sight, out of mind” stop you from showing your appreciation for their virtual help.
Remember, we all live here, and we support one another in normal times, during a pandemic and especially through the holidays.