How you can help your local businesses
As more and more of us are taking the advice of public health experts and are practising social distancing or self-isolation, huge numbers of small businesses in our local communities are feeling the impact.
Restaurants and bars have been forced to close and many other local shops, stores and consumer service businesses — from nail salons to small neighbourhood fitness clubs — are shutting down because of a lack of customers associated with the COVID-19 outbreak.
Operating a small business is often tough at most times, but these are unprecedented days. Indeed, a drop in business over the coming weeks because of COVID-19 could force some local businesses to close forever, pushing their owners into bankruptcy and their employees out of jobs.
The newspapers and news websites owned by Torstar Corporation have long been supportive of small, local businesses in all the communities they serve across Ontario. We believe small businesses are critical to the success, strength and economic vitality of communities large and small.
And so, in these increasingly uncertain times when local businesses need the support of all of us, we’re urging our readers and our communities to offer their help – to show their love – for their favourite shops and stores. There are ways all of us can help – even if we are stuck at home:
Shop locally: Many small stores are still open, albeit some with greatly reduced operating hours. If you must leave your home to buy some goods, think of your nearby stores. And if you can’t get outside, many local shops have part of their inventory online and they will deliver to your door.
Buy gift cards: Purchasing a gift card from a local business is a way of getting money to a store owner now, when they need it the most.
Order takeout or delivery:
Some restaurants and shops are offering options like home delivery or easy pickup service as a way to minimize any human-to-human contact. Consider ordering at least one meal a week this way.
Tip more: It’s a bad time to be a coffee-shop worker or a delivery driver because they are likely working shorter hours and getting fewer tips because of fewer customers. If you can afford it, think about giving a bigger tip the next time these workers serve you.
Urge government action: True, our governments are offering some help, but they haven’t grasped just how severe the economic crisis is for many small business owners, according to Dan Kelly, head of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, the country’s largest small-business association. You can help by emailing your local mayor, provincial MPP and federal MP and requesting they consider further assistance.
Say thanks: At a time when all of us are stressed, it may ease the anxiety of local business owners just a bit if they know their customers are thinking of them and appreciate all they have done for their community.
Such signs of help – and others that you can likely think of – are needed more than ever now.
Please show your support.