Local businesses are being forced into making difficult decisions as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. 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 America but worldwide, small businesses desperately need your help. Although it may be hard to around your city, you can still make a difference. Indeed, you can support 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.

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 Grubhub or UberEats. Moreover, the most popular method is with DoorDash. Be that as it may, there are even other delivery services that are closer to home. However, the larger 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. Either way, you are helping out restaurants in their greatest time of need.

Check The Zip Code

For example, if you enter a Santa Cruz, California zip code, you will currently find locally owned restaurants like Charlie Hong Kong and Roux Dat Cajun Creole. With more demand growing for delivery services, DoorDash and others are offering delivery jobs. As a result, that’s another benefit to the community.

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. That’s primarily due to the pandemic. However, as conditions start to get better, you can feel more at ease at farmers markets. What’s more, you can even socialize with vendors and friends.

Visit The Website of a Local Farmer

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 know are grown or produced locally. Although you may be able to get a better price at grocery stores, the quality won’t be as good.

Related: Best Farmers Markets In San Francisco

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.

Santa Cruz-Based WVN

This is happening right now to exceptional retailers like Santa Cruz-based WVN, who provide premium organic cotton clothing, while only using fair labor practices. While WVN 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.

Related: Santa Cruz County Businesses To Support

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.

Helps Senior Citizens

Perhaps most importantly, gift cards can also be very helpful to people in need. For instance, senior citizens, who may need food and merchandise delivered to them. Additionally, some gift cards come with incentives, 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.

Use Social Media To Promote Local Businesses

Whether you live in San Francisco, Santa Cruz or elsewhere, you can help local businesses through social media. Since more and more people are staying 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. On the other hand, other online sites can be very helpful for local businesses. For example, you can write a positive on Yelp, Google and even TripAdvisor. What’s more, if you write several reviews, you might be able to receive incentives from those review sites.

Food Delivery Apps

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. All in all, food delivery services have become quite popular during the pandemic.

About The Author:

Randy Yagi is an award-winning freelance writer who served as the National Travel Writer for CBS from 2012-2019. More than 900 of his stories still appear in syndication across 23 CBS websites, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco. During his peak years with CBS, Randy had a reported digital audience reach of 489 million and 5.5 million monthly visitors. Additionally, his stories have appeared in the Daily Meal, CBS News, CBS Radio, Engadget and Radio.com. He earned a Media Fellowship from Stanford University in 2012.

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