5 Ways to Support Small Businesses While Stuck Inside

While schools are keeping students home for online learning days and parents are encouraged to work from home, our focus could be small.

Getting one day to the next while we watch constant updates about coronavirus is foremost in our minds and parents and consumers.

Owners of small businesses want to remind their loyal customers that they can still help.

“We want people to know that there are families directly behind these businesses,” says Keewa Nurullah, owner of Kido, a children’s retail store in Roosevelt Collections. “Everyone is aware of the people who need support on the bottom, the hourly workers and people who have no choice when companies close down. But, everyone is affected.”

On Thursday, Governor J.B. Pritzker shut down gatherings of 1,000 or more in the state for 30 days, which would end just before Easter, a prime shopping time and bunny-meeting time for family-friendly stores and play places.

Here’s what you can do to continue to support your favorite local businesses:

Buy Gift Cards

A gift card now is money in the register of a business to continue operating and paying part-time workers.

Even though you’re staying home with your kids, if you would have taken them to a local play place for play time on a Wednesday, buying a certificate for the class on Wednesday and using it later can help.

“If you buy a gift certificate for a class pass, then you’re still spending money in the same way you would have in your week,” Nurullah says. “Now you’re saying, ‘hey, we’re still spending money with you, because we want you to be here when this is over.’”

Shop by Phone

Diane Moore of Moore Toys & Gadgets in Wheaton says that she is happy to continue to be a personal shopper, even if it’s over the phone.

“If you call and say that you’re looking for someone who is turning 8 or 12 or your grandpa who loves puzzles, we can do personal shopping for you,” Moore says. “We can take pictures and text you or FaceTime with you and go around the store. There’s a lot that we can do if people don’t want to or can’t venture out.”

Moore also says you’ll get white-glove delivery service from the owner herself, as more and more small businesses are incorporating curb-side delivery to new and existing customers.

Shop Online

Nurullah says she’s been checking her inventory and updating her website for customers who want to shop quietly during naptime, on their phones while kids are e-learning, or just for the convenience.

“I have boutique-owner friends who have added ‘after pay’ as a convenience,” Nurullah says. “Everyone is just trying to think of any tactic that might help entice people to complete the purchase.”

Also, customers likely won’t find as many random price hikes while shopping local online as well, and can get some items sooner with local delivery than shopping big box stores online.

Eat Out At Home

Many local restaurants that didn’t previously have added carry-out options to their menus.

If it has been a while since you’ve been on the GrubHub or Caviar apps, check for new restaurants to pop up.

Some are also offering discounts for new customers or for delivery during certain times of the day, helping to keep kitchen staff working during what would otherwise be downtimes without regular lunch traffic.

Maintain Social Media Contact

Moore has posted updates on her Facebook page about how the store is maintaining a constant cleaning schedule and when it sanitized the demonstration toys and then put them away.

Keeping in contact with stores through social media allows customers to know how the store is doing, when events have been rescheduled or canceled and when sales are posted.

“Because everyone is going to be home on phones and computers, things like (social media) become more important,” Nurullah says. “Sharing posts so the visibility stays out there is important. If regular customers aren’t pushing strollers by the shop they don’t see us. We want to stay in people’s minds and mouths through the internet.”

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