Empty Streets around San Francisco City Hall
Empty Streets around San Francisco City Hall (photo courtesy of Facebook)

All across the country, local businesses are being forced into making difficult decisions as a result of the ongoing coronavirus situation. Do I lay off some of my most loyal employees or do I close my business altogether? Do I declare bankruptcy or try to hang on? With situations like this happening not just in the U.S. but all over the world, family owned businesses need your help more than ever. Although you might be limited in getting around your city, you can still make a difference by supporting your favorite restaurant or retail store by going online. And by doing so, you’re also doing that much more to support the local economy.

Organic food from Charlie Hong Kong, one of the many local businesses in santa cruz that need your help
Organic Food Delivered By DoorDash (credit: Randy Yagi)

Food Delivery

If you have a favorite locally owned restaurant, trying contacting them directly to see if they are providing a food delivery service. . However, the most widely used method is to order online through a food delivery service, like DoorDash, Grubhub or UberEats. These companies are currently offering free delivery and special deals, like discounted subscriptions. Simply visit their website and enter your zip code to search for local businesses. For example, if you enter a Santa Cruz, California zip code, you will currently find locally owned restaurants like Charlie Hong Kong, Pleasure Pizza East Side Eatery and Roux Dat Cajun Creole. With more demand expected for delivery services in the coming weeks, DoorDash and others are offering jobs to new drivers, another benefit to the community. Food delivery services are not restricted to the United States – with UberEats. Just Eat and Delivery Hero available in several countries.

colorful organic produce from one of the local businesses at the San Francisco Farmers Market
San Francisco Farmers Market (credit: Randy Yagi)

Buy Local Produce

Currently, farmers markets are still operating as an essential business in providing healthy, nutrient rich foods. This means by visiting a farmers market, you’ll not only be able to purchase the healthiest produce and other artisan goods, you’re also help support farmers, purveyors and other local businesses. Due to the coronavirus situation, food booths may not be available although foods prepared and packaged at off-site commercial kitchen should be. There are some caveats, of course, in visiting a farmers market, large or small. It’s still important to maintain social distancing standards and be cautious of using cash instead of a credit card due to a possible spread of disease. In addition to farmers markets, find out if there is a delivery service that can provide fresh, organic foods directly to you. You can visit the website of a local farmer and find out if you can order directly from the source. Alternatively, you can find a business nearby that represents several farmers for artisan food deliveries, like Farm Fresh To You, Farmbox Direct and Farm to People, among others. If grocery stores are your only option, try purchasing items you known are grown or produced locally

Related: Best Farmers Markets In San Francisco

Model wearing Synergy organic cotton dress in an outdoor landscape. Synergy is one of the local businesses in Santa Cruz that need your help
Synergy Organic Clothing (photo courtesy of Synergy via Facebook)

Online Retail Businesses

Like restaurants, many retail businesses are severely hampered by the coronavirus. Whether it’s a brick-and-mortar store, online retailer or both, you can help local businesses get through this current situation. Although some are completely open, like pharmacies, grocery and hardware stores, other local businesses are in great need for community support. Take for instance retail clothing stores, who like restaurants, may be forced to close or are working with a skeleton crew under social distancing conditions. This is happening right now to exceptional retailers like Santa Cruz-based Synergy Organic Clothing, who provide premium organic cotton clothing, while only using fair labor practices. While Synergy has a small, walk-in store, it relies more heavily on online sales, direct through its official website or through providers like Amazon and QVC and at Whole Foods. With the current situation still uncertain, it’s all but likely there is a similar retail clothing business or more in your city that you can help support.

Gift cards for local businesses like New Leaf Markets
Gift Cards (photo courtesy of New Leaf Markets)

Buy Gift Cards

With news of empty shelves at grocery and big box stores everywhere, it’s clear that basic necessities are in great demand. But you can also support local businesses by purchasing a gift card directly through its website, even if you don’t need anything for yourself. It also may be a good time to use a gift card as virtually every online retailer, like Synergy, are currently hosting sales at sometimes at more than 50 percent off. Perhaps most importantly, gift cards can also be very helpful to people in need, like senior citizens, who may need food and merchandise delivered to them. Additionally, some gift cards come with an added bonus, such as an extra $20 for purchasing a $100 gift card. After the purchase of a gift card, the value of the card can be delivered electronically via a special code. However, it’s very important not to share that code to others who might abuse the gift card.

Facebook Float with a Thumbs Up Sign in San Francisco
Facebook Thumbs Up (credit: Randy Yagi)

Use Social Media To Promote Local Businesses

Whether you live in San Francisco, Santa Cruz, London, Mumbai or elsewhere, you can help local businesses through social media. Since more and more people are being forced to stay home, writing or sharing a positive review on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter etc. should be an easy task. Moreover, it can influence readers to become potential new customers or just as easily, retain current ones. Social media sites may also have a food delivery search option built into its app. You can also search through online review sites like Yelp for top rated local restaurants that offer a food delivery service. Either way, chances are you may be finding yourself more online. If that’s the case, take advantage of your time in a way that not only benefits yourself, but benefits friends, family and people in your community, or even beyond.

Related: 10 Travel Movies To Watch If You’re Stuck At Home



About The Author:

Randy Yagi is an award-winning freelance writer who has covered national/international travel for CBS Local and all things San Francisco for CBS San Francisco. His stories have also appeared in the Daily Meal, Examiner.com, CBS Radio and Radio.com, among others. He is a Media Fellow of Stanford University.


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