support local shops

8 Ways To Support Local Business While Practicing Social Distancing

The world is a crazy place right now. Especially here in California, where coronavirus has us all staying home and being responsible for our social distancing responsibilities. Many people are left wondering what to do as they find themselves thrust into the world of homeschooling, telecommuting, and even unemployment. With the recent mandates by government officials to close all non-essential businesses, many business owners also face uncertainty about what the future might hold.

In the long run, things will return to normal. Many of the adaptations we are making in our lives and businesses will likely become the new norm. Even amid Covid-19 worries, people with an entrepreneurial mindset are already finding ways to thrive.

Looking forward to a time when we can all start getting back to normal, we all must take steps now to support the businesses we love most. Many small businesses operate on extremely tight margins, meaning that even a few days of being closed down can impact them for quite a long time. Closing for a few weeks or months of quarantine means that many businesses will likely close forever.

With this in mind, let’s look at some ways that we can support our local small businesses now so that they will still be there when things settle. Many of these steps require some monetary support from those who have the means; many are also free, effort-based actions. Even when times are tight, your attention can be the most valuable thing you have to share, and it does make a difference.

1 – Buy Gift Certificates

“Cash is oxygen to a business,” says Gary Vee. Without money coming in, it is hard for a business to keep the doors open. While we may not be able to go to our favorite establishments right now, many of them are still open to making deliveries and take calls. Many more have an online presence.

By purchasing gift cards, we can provide those businesses with a bit of cash flow to help hold them over. Essentially, we are helping to flatten the curve of their debt so they can survive a bit longer. Then, when the world returns to normal, we can use those gift cards for a nice treat, or perhaps to celebrate with some friends.

A single gift card may not be much, but when many of us come together, it starts to add up quickly.

2 – Order To-Go

All non-essential businesses are closed in California, restaurants and other food service establishments are open for take-out and delivery. Ordering to-go lets the business keep the doors open, but more importantly, it helps them keep their kitchen staff employed.

Many delivery apps, such as Uber Eats and GrubHub, are also providing free delivery services. Check with your favorite restaurant, many shops waive delivery fees, or if they have alternate delivery options available.

3 – Shop Remotely

Usually, when you think of shopping online, sites like Amazon or eBay come to mind. While many small businesses do work with these major retailers, the closer to home we can keep the money, the better it will be for our local businesses.

Many local businesses have online portals or e-commerce sites, or they can custom-build links for the things you need. Other companies are accepting orders via text and taking payment over the phone.

4 – Maintain Subscriptions

When things get tight, many people look for ways to trim the budget. While this is undoubtedly important, the current situation is temporary. Once we have coronavirus under control, life will resume. Assess which subscription or memberships you want to keep and which to cancel. As you assess, include the value each brings to your life and your community.

Perhaps that magazine subscription could go since you are already three months behind on your reading. The national publishing house will likely be more able to adapt or to leverage credit and government programs to stay afloat.

Your local gym, massage clinic, or newspaper may be more severely affected by short-term losses. Of course, your family’s well-being comes first, but if you have the means, maintaining those memberships for as long as possible, can be an enormous help to those small businesses. They will likely make it up to you later with perks.

5 – Window Shop on Social Media

In the world of marketing, word-of-mouth is some of the most powerful advertising there is. The modern version of this idea is social media interaction. Even with brick-and-mortar locations closing, may businesses are ramping up their online spending as a way to attract more customers. Marketing takes a lot of time and can cost a lot of money…the money they may not have.

One quirk of online marketing is that the more people talk about business, interact with that business’s posts and content (such as liking, commenting, or sharing), the cheaper the marketing becomes, and the more people will see it.

When the businesses you like post content on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, or their blog, be sure to click on it, like it, comment, and even share it. If you are using that business’s services, this is a great time to leave them a positive review on Google. Every little bit helps, and you may even see something you want or need to buy.

6 – Donate to Non-Profits

Non-profit businesses are committed to causes beyond making a profit, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need access to funds to complete their missions. Donating a few dollars to a local charity helps them keep the doors open and allows them to help those most in need. By maintaining the donations local, much of the money will also stay local as those small charities tend to serve members of their immediate community.

Even if your budget is tight, you can donate clothing, services, and food. If you give those gift cards you purchased, the effects of your efforts are magnified as your initial purchase now helps an even higher number of people.

7 – Stock Up On Local Produce

Farm stands and farmers’ markets conjure thoughts of meandering road trips out to Julian or along the coast. Many of these farms are open year-round, and buying the produce, meats, honey, and other products from the local farmer can help them stay afloat while they figure out new ways to get their products out to retailers and restaurants.

As a bonus, by keeping your purchases local, fewer hands will touch the food you are bringing into your house. Minimizing contact as much as possible is key to flattening the coronavirus curve. It’s a win-win!

8 – Talk About Them

Many businesses are using the interruption of their regular operations to provide community service. Pizzerias are providing at-home pizza kits to kids, teachers are reading bedtime stories on Facebook, and martial arts schools like Golden Leopard Kempo are providing free online lessons.

When you see these businesses doing something good for the community, help spread the word. Post about them on Facebook, tell your friends about them or even use them as examples as you teach your kids about community service in the face of adversity.

Buying free produce

Small Businesses Are The Lifeblood of the Community

We often look to big businesses, the stock market, or celebrities for direction, and in turn, provide them our support. But, when you go about your daily routine, when you drive through your community, when you hear your friends talking about their dreams, it is a local business that drives the local economy and supports many of the activities and relationships within the community.

Be sure to support your favorite establishments, and you’ll help ensure they are there when it’s time to leave the house again.

Do you have a favorite local business? Shout them out in the comments!

Stuck at home with the kids? Check out our free daily age-specific martial arts challenges on our Facebook page.


  • Bryan Bagnas

    Grandmaster and Founder of Golden Leopard Kempo Martial Arts School, teaching Philippine Combatives, Karazenpo Go Shinjutsu, Kickboxing, Hawaiian Shaolin Kempo, and Self-Defense to San Diego students for over three decades.