Skip to main content

8 Ways to Support Local Businesses During the COVID-19 Pandemic

A couple ordering a product online.
JGI/Tom Grill/Getty Images

The COVID-19 pandemic has been taxing on our personal lives and mental health. But for many who can’t work from home, the impact of the coronavirus is completely calamitous. We can’t easily dismiss this time in history as a bizarre fluke or a meme-able few months because, on a larger scale, this situation is certainly horrific. And on a local level, the devastation is even more real.

Thankfully, there’s still hope — if we take action now, that is. We’ve put together a few simple suggestions to support local businesses thrive during these tough times and make sure things can return to normal in your neighborhood.

Find Your Favorite Business’s GoFundMe

A man on a sofa using his phone and laptop.

Look, it’s not the most elegant solution to the broad and sweeping problems created by the coronavirus, but it’s certainly a direct action you can take. Many independently-owned bars and stores have set up emergency relief funds for their staff members. If you can afford it, any money contributed to these types of fundraisers is going directly to helping the workers who are most immediately impacted by the shutdown. Considering many state unemployment websites have crashed due to being bombarded by newly out-of-work citizens, this is perhaps the quickest way certain subsets of workers can get relief.

Read more: How Harlem Hops is Giving Back

Get in Touch With Local Politicians

A man using his phone at dining table.

We get it — local politics often feel banal at best. But the truth of the matter is local politicians — governors, mayors, state representatives — have a lot of say in what goes on in our daily lives. Now would be a great time to contact them and let them know that their constituents are largely in favor of things like rent freezes, health insurance reforms, and emergency aid to the most vulnerable populations. These things will greatly benefit the workers who are suffering the most as their places of employment remain closed.

Find Your Favorite Performers Online

A man with beer bottle raising his arm while watching an online performance from his laptop.

Frighteningly, one of the biggest impacts of COVID-19 is that not only are more traditional employees, like bar-backs, shopkeepers, and booksellers, finding themselves lacking work, but entertainers of all kinds are suddenly without spaces to perform. Musicians, comedians, drag performers, DJs, dancers, and more rely on local economies to make money, and because they’re often paid in cash, they’re not even eligible for government assistance programs when the work dries up.

But artists are, by their very nature, a creative bunch and have taken to livestreaming services like YouTube, Facebook Live, IGTV, and Twitch to broadcast shows from home. Most of these performers are smart enough to also include their Venmo, PayPal, or Cash App accounts in these performances. It’s your job as a responsible consumer to tip these artists because, at this moment, it might be the only way they can make any money at all.

Don’t Stop Shopping

A man with mug using a laptop.

This won’t apply to every local business, but many hometown stores are coming up with new and clever ways to keep operating without their brick-and-mortar locations staying open. If a favorite shop of yours has an online presence, see what they’re selling on the net, and buy away! You’re probably saving a lot of money because you’re eating out less nowadays anyway, and you might as well splurge on some new books, handmade goods, or artisanal products that otherwise seemed too expensive before the shutdowns.

Consider gift cards, too! While stores might not be open right now, this isn’t bound to last forever — and if you can help shops stay afloat by paying them now for business later, now’s a good time to do so.

Mind Your Manners

A male barista handing out a paper bag to a customer.

We’re all nervous and definitely on edge, but that doesn’t give you a pass to be rude. If you have to go to a grocery store or any other essential service, remember that the employees are under immense amounts of stress and are likely to be drastically underpaid. “Please” and “thank you” go a long way toward helping us all feel sane.

Order In

A delivery man bringing food to a male customer.

If you can keep your mind away from the brain-numbing effects of social isolation, there are certain pleasures to be had in the Seamless-and-chill lifestyle. Cooking for yourself is fun, but — especially right now — there’s nothing wrong with calling your favorite restaurant and getting their goods delivered right to your door. This is a great way to keep your spirits up but also keeps cash flowing into businesses that really could be hurting right now.

Read more: Best Food Delivery Services

Tip Extra

A barista posing behind the counter.

That being said, if you’re going to indulge, now’s the time to give more money than normal to the delivery workers and restaurant staff that make sure you’re eating great. These hardworking cooks and delivery people are risking their health for your convenience, and you can thank them with your cold hard cash. If you’re picking up to-go food, remember to tip the people you pick the food up from, too.

Remember That It Doesn’t End When This Virus is Gone

A male florist happily using his iPad in his flower shop.

The truth of the matter is that local businesses have a hard time operating year-round, even when there isn’t a pandemic destroying our social lives. We should all remember that advocating for our favorite local places doesn’t have to stop once our lives return to normal. Aim to be politically active, and consider voting for politicians who want to raise the minimum wage, curtail landlord power, and protect workers’ rights all year round.

This also goes for responsible consumerism in general. It has certainly become easy to rely on sites like Amazon or Walmart to deliver pretty much anything to your door at any given moment. But local economies are important, too, and if you can afford to pay a few extra dollars for books or household goods or clothes, it’ll be a huge boon to businesses that need your money.

Read more: Asian-American Businesses to Support

Editors' Recommendations

1400 Miles to Prevent Prostate Cancer
1400 miles to prevent prostate cancer 1440 2

It’s likely you have a long list of things you’d rather do than get a prostate exam: reseed the lawn one tiny seed at a time, shark dive without a cage, binge watch “Say Yes To The Dress,” but with 1 in 7 men getting a prostate cancer diagnosis, it’s time to man up and bend over. The nonprofit 1400 Miles uses humor (their tagline is “Don’t Fear the Finger” after all) to get men to pay attention to their prostate health and organizes probably the most fun bike ride for a cause ever.

1400 Miles founder, Davis Tucker, has two very personal reasons for caring so much about helping men protect their prostate health: 1) he has a prostate and 2) he watched firsthand as his close friend and don of craft beer, Don Thompson, valiantly fought the disease. By day Tucker is the owner of NxNW Restaurant and Brewery and so he decided to combine his love of beer and biking to help men talk about their health and help make the screening process more accessible by creating the The Big Ride. And big it is: Tucker bikes 1400 miles in 14 days, starting in Austin, Texas, on September 18th and ending (if all goes to plan!) in Denver, Colorado, on October 2nd--just in time for the Great American Beer Festival. Along the way, Tucker will stop off at various places for a beer. You can find the full schedule here so feel free to stop by if you’re in the area!

Read more
Loving March Madness? 10 basketball documentaries you need to stream
These documentaries about basketball tell the stories behind the world's greatest NBA stars
best basketball documentaries to stream bird and magic

Basketball is a worldwide phenomenon in 2023. The sport that started as a desperate idea from Canadian-American physical education teacher James Naismith has evolved into a cultural touchstone for kids and adults alike all over the planet as well as an excellent workout. Some of the most famous celebrities on Earth have played basketball, from Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant to LeBron James and Magic Johnson. The vibrant personalities and stories behind these prominent basketball figures have led to keen public curiosity about their upbringings, their struggles, and their internal triumphs.

This is where documentary filmmaking comes into the equation. With the influx of streaming on platforms such as Netflix and HBO Max, basketball fans have been able to binge their educational movies about the NBA and college basketball for many years now. The market for these documentaries continues to grow, and it seems more basketball players and coaches are getting their own films. It's time to look at 10 of the best documentaries about basketball you can get your hands on right now!

Read more
The 22 best Netflix movies to stream right now
These are the best movies to stream on Netflix
Netflix logo on tv with red back lighting

Although it's now only one big player in an even bigger streaming market, Netflix still manages to crank out plenty of stuff to keep its users subscribing. That glut of content is great if all you want is to never get bored, but it can make it difficult to figure out which things are actually worth your time, and which aren't. If that's your goal, we've got you covered. This list is a combination of great Netflix original movies, and great movies that Netflix is currently housing on its service. What unites these movies, though, is that they are the very best that Netflix currently has to offer.
If you're looking for films to watch on some of Netflix's competitors, we've also found the best Amazon Prime movies, the best Hulu movies, and the best Disney+ movies.

All Quiet on the Western Front (2022)

Read more