As we all know by now, the holidays are looking very different this year. While ordering gifts for loved ones from large retailers online is a convenient way to check items off your holiday list, there are some great ways we can help our local economy and small businesses that are facing huge challenges due to the pandemic.
Following are some tips on how to safely support the local businesses in our communities this holiday season while protecting ourselves and our loved ones from COVID-19.
1. Find out if your favorite local shops offer the ability to order items online and pick them up with minimal contact either in-store or at the curb. Many small businesses have worked hard to change their operations during COVID, so even if they didn’t have online ordering before, they may now.
2. Shop and ship at non-peak times. If you can, visit stores or the post office on weekdays and avoid evenings and weekends. Always wear a mask, maintain 6’ of distance between you and other shoppers, and wash/sanitize your hands frequently. And don’t go out if you’re at all not feeling well.
3. If you do purchase items in a store, use contactless payments when possible. Check with your financial institution to see if your debit or credit card is available on digital wallet. These payment options are safe, secure and reduce the number of surfaces you’ll touch while shopping.
4. Consider purchasing gift cards to local merchants and restaurants to give as gifts. Doing this is a great way to help support local businesses and provide a gift that everyone loves – the one they get to pick themselves!
5. Tip generously. If you’re picking up food-to-go at a favorite local restaurant, don’t forget to leave a tip. So many restaurant workers may be working significantly reduced schedules, so tips are more important than ever.
6. Amplify your support. If you’ve had a positive experience with a local business, leave a positive review on Facebook, Google or Yelp, or give them a shout-out on social media so your friends and followers will see it and consider supporting them as well.
7. Finally, show patience and understanding. There’s no question that 2020 has been a year like no other, and for those running small businesses, the stress, uncertainty and financial hardships are immeasurable. When you visit a local business, ask how they’re doing. Thank them for staying open and continuing to serve the community. And support them by coming back and buying their goods or services.
For information about Bellco Credit Union, visit Bellco.org. Bellco is federally insured by NCUA.