Why Business Owners Need Your Help Post-Quarantine
Updated: Jul 9, 2020
(Would you rather listen to this post? Visit my podcast page and listen to episode #4. It's a podcast version of this post with expanded info.)
Can you imagine a worse scenario for business owners than COVID-19? Some businesses have already closed forever. Others are hanging on, but their status depends heavily on their sales over the next couple months.
It helps that most of the country is reopening, but sales are still not back to normal. Business owners are still hurting.
According to an article at CNN.com, foot traffic in stores decreased a stunning 97% in April. Since customers have started shopping again, the numbers have improved slightly. Foot traffic in stores in the first week of June was down “only” 69%.
If we want our local businesses to survive, it’s imperative that we do whatever we can to help them. If you’re not sure where to start, I’ve come up with a few guidelines to give our efforts some structure.
#1- Make a purchase in at least seven different businesses in the next seven days. If this number is close to your average in a normal week, then double it to fourteen.
#2- Shop at a store you’ve never been to before. According to Opportunity Springfield*, there are over 5,700 businesses in Springfield. You should be able to find one that you’ve never visited before.
(*This post was originally published as a column in the Springfield, Illinois newspaper. Therefore, there are several references to Springfield. Just think of your hometown whenever you see "Springfield".)
#3- Choose at least one locally owned business that is not a franchise. The more our money stays in Springfield, the more it helps our community.
#4- Visit at least one restaurant. One of my previous columns was all about saving money by eating at home, but saving money isn’t the goal this time. We’re actually trying to spend a bit more than normal to help others. If you can, be generous with your tip.
#5- Walmart, Target, and grocery stores do not count. Nothing against those businesses, but let’s be honest here. They will survive the pandemic just fine. Quarantine or not, people will always buy groceries and goods from the big retailers. I’m not saying you can’t shop there this week, just that these businesses shouldn’t figure into your count of seven.
Most business owners will need thousands of dollars in sales to make up what they lost during quarantine. Don’t feel like you have to make this difference up all by yourself. Don’t go into debt or buy a big-ticket item if you can’t afford it. It’s okay to buy something small.
For example, buy a couple greeting cards from a gift shop. Visit a small business and buy someone a birthday gift, even if their birthday is a couple months away. Stop at a coffee shop and order a drink, even if you have a coffee maker at home.
So for the next week, try to give your shopping dollars to at least seven different businesses. Do whatever you can. Realize also that if the quarantine had a severe negative effect on your finances, and you’re struggling, then you can sit this one out. Let other people help you, and when you get back on your feet, help someone else out.
Many of our small and locally owned businesses add some spice to our community. It would be a shame to see a lot of them close because they weren’t supported after the quarantine ended.
If we all make an effort to support our local community, we will come out of this pandemic stronger than we were before.