Main Street communities all around the country need our help. When you stop to picture what a small town looks like, you likely imagine a main street. Small shops, sunny day, families walking with bags of locally found treasures. Folks gathered at the local coffee shop or brewery. You might imagine a delicious meal, a walk through a place you’ll want to visit again and again. When we think of small town, we often feel a sense of nostalgia for a quieter, more wholesome experience that can often be lost in our everyday lives.
Those of us who live in small towns understand the respite that our communities offer to those who visit. We understand that weekends and summers will be busier, and we embrace that season because of what it affords our overall community. We choose the small-town life because it’s home. We know the shopkeepers, the grocers, the mail deliverers, firefighters, police officers, the gas station attendants as valued community members. We see them at school conferences, along the sidelines, as we pick up our takeout, and we greet them with a wave as we pass them on the road.
These mainstays to our communities are what makes us unique. Our small businesses bring personality to our town every morning when they unlock their doors. Small businesses build community reputation that reaches far beyond the boarders of our towns.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to paint us in uncertainty, our small businesses are operating with their own unique challenges. Locked doors, bills to pay, unsold goods gathering dust, etc. Shops exist for their customers and when their customers are staying at home, our stores find themselves in an increasingly insecure place. Small business owners are faced with difficult decisions. While abiding by prescribed restrictions, small businesses are launched into the exhausting arena of constant creativity. Orthodontists never trained to examine their patients via FaceTime. Restaurants didn’t budget for the extreme amount of take out containers. Personal Trainers never anticipated showcasing their living rooms or garages to satisfy the needs of their client base. Retail stores never imagined that their days would be filled with photographing their wares and holding 1:1 personal shopping appointments over the phone.
So how can we help? How can the population at home help the small businesses in our Main Street communities?
Here’s a few ideas: Ask the experts – While you’re at home with time to address the household projects that you’ve wanted to tackle for years, but don’t know exactly what to do, reach out to your local resources. In doing so, you’ll not only connect with a local expert, but they will likely have supplies that will be helpful in your project. Shop local, shop small, keep main street alive!
Building project? Ask your local hardware store. They are equipped for just about any project and come with generations of knowledge to help you on your way.
Baking project? Ask your local bakery or kitchenware’s shop. Many of us are at home letting off creative stream in the kitchen. Whether your recipes are tired, or you don’t have the correct supplies, let your local team of experts help.
Sewing project? Ask your local tailor. Never before have sewing machines been so busy! Ask a local expert how to best dust yours off, where to purchase materials needed, and how to find success. They know better than anyone and will be happy to help.
Personal Grooming project? Ask your local salon for their expertise BEFORE you begin. We’ve all seen the photos of clippers gone wrong. Don’t fall prey to a kitchen haircut before you consult with your local stylist. They may have products that will help you, tutorials to guide you, or they might just help talk you off the cliff.
Lawncare or Landscape project? As days become warmer, more and more gardens are in their preparatory stages. Contact a local landscaper to help. Source a nearby greenhouse to purchase your plants. Our high school has a greenhouse on sight! Proceeds benefit the school and are often an inexpensive alternative.
And remember – not all projects are DIY. Some (many) are best left to the professionals. When all else fails – wait for your favorite professional! I promise they can’t wait to help you!
Don’t seek the sale – Profit margins are in flux right now. With so many people unsure of their financial future, a good sale is always enticing. That said, small businesses are doing everything they can right now to keep their bills payed. The sales will return, the deals and discounts will come back. Right now, feel good about paying full price. Main street businesses will thank you for shopping with them and appreciate your loyalty even when they aren’t able to offer sale pricing.
Shop MLM’s – Multi Level Marketing companies are providing income earning opportunities to many families experiencing income loss. If you know of an independent consultant for a Direct Sales company, ask them about their products. Skincare, dietary supplements, household goods, clothing, books, organizational products, etc. are all represented in this business model. It’s likely that you already know of a consultant – what better time than now to support their small business?
Purchase Gift Cards – Doors will reopen. Businesses will move quickly from survival to flourishing and you can be a part of that process today.
Surprise! – Ask your main street businesses if they are offering subscription boxes or if they’d be willing to design a gift based for your budget. With Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, or any special day right around the corner, your local retail stores are sure to have some wonderful gifts on hand. Schedule a shopping appointment or ask them to surprise you and your loved ones with a unique gift.
Follow, Like, Share, & Shop – Many businesses are leaning on their online platforms now more than ever. Make sure that you are Following their pages, liking their posts, sharing their content, and shopping their products. If you have a favorite small business, now is the time to seek them out on social media and support them.
Whatever “Normal” looks like is sure to change as we move into the weeks and months ahead. Small businesses have always been a backbone to our small-town way of life. Whether it’s through sponsoring local sports teams, supporting philanthropic endeavors, or donating to countless fundraisers, our small businesses show up; repeatedly they show up.