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Sonoma Family Life Magazine

Buy Local—But from a Safe Distance

By Janeen Lewis

Local businesses often make up the heart of communities, giving customers individualized attention and unique products. Delivery, curbside pick-up, Face Time orders, and virtual classes are a few of the ways local businesses are getting creative during this unprecedented time of social distancing. Here are some ways you can support the small businesses you love.

Buy from the Mom-and-Pops. If you need something, think twice before you start clicking away on big box store websites. These companies will weather the financial storm of social distancing better than smaller shops. Give your business to a local store that you would visit during more normal times.

Order merchandise online, if the local store gets the sale. Buy online from local businesses. However, if the local store is part of a bigger chain, make sure the local proprietor gets the sale. If they don’t, find another way to purchase items, such as curbside pick-up.

Order carry out or curbside pick-up. Many restaurants are open for takeout or delivery. Other stores have quickly switched to curbside pick-up.

Take advantage of delivery. Some stores are taking orders and payment over the phone, and then delivering to your doorstep. This stops face-to-face contact, but still allows customers to shop and small businesses to sell their wares.

Purchase online gift cards. Purchasing virtual gift cards is an easy way to support a small business. Buy them now, and use them later when storefronts reopen.

Use social media and electronic formats to check out merchandise. If a store is offering virtual tours via social media and Face Time, take advantage of that service. Call in or email your order and then use curbside pick-up or delivery, or pick up the item when the storefront has reopened.

Reach out and request. Business owners are getting really creative right now, so reach out to them. You may have a request or a suggestion that they can accommodate.

Take a virtual class. Does your child’s favorite music instructor or sports coach offer virtual classes? Sign up for one now. Are there any virtual subscription services you can order that will support a small business? Try them out!

Most small businesses were blindsided by the economic impact of the statewide shutdown and social distancing. Support them now so they will be a viable part of the community later.

Janeen Lewis is a nationally published freelance writer.