8 Ways to Support Local Businesses

When we zoom in on the fabric of our favorite neighborhoods, we’re all but guaranteed to find one common thread: small businesses. Simply put, those who run our favorite local restaurants, farmers markets, boutiques, gyms and cafés are what make our cities feel like home.

As the pandemic and its resulting economic strain continues to shape our  everyday lives, our reliance on—and appreciation of—neighborhood stores and services has grown. This moment presents an opportunity to make local businesses more central to our daily lives. Today, shopping and dining locally is imperative to ensuring our close-to-home communities survive and thrive. Below, discover eight easy ways to support local businesses in your community:   


  1. Order takeout or delivery from a favorite (non-chain) restaurant once or twice a week.

If you can, call the restaurant directly to order. This cuts back on third-party fees and ensures the restaurant gets the most out of the sale. Many are also choosing to tip more right now this act of generosity also aims to ensure the restaurant will be able to stay on its feet and host you in-person when the time is right.


  1. Get your home cleaning supplies from local zero-waste shops and markets.

Stay clean, stay green and support local—there are a number of independent shops and markets that allow patrons to refill containers for soaps and household cleaners. Here’s a great list of zero waste stores in California


  1. Source produce from farmers markets when you’re able. 

Though many farmers markets have paused (or scaled back) their regular schedules, there are still ways to support local growers.  Find small and family-owned farms in your area at LocalHarvest.org  and arrange for produce delivery or pick up.  You get fresh food, they get your support.  


  1. Make friends with your local bookseller. 

Many of us are turning to books, along with other hobbies, to entertain and educate ourselves during this time. Befriend your neighborhood bookseller and find out how to best support their business—be sure to ask for reading recommendations and inquire after works by local authors. If you don’t have a local bookstore nearby, Bookshop.org donates a portion of each sale to local bookshops nationwide, so you still can support local—just maybe not your local.


  1. Stock up on gift cards.

Even without shopping or dining, you can still support local businesses financially by buying gift cards for future use. Are there local coffee shops you frequented during “normal times” but haven’t visited recently? Consider putting the money you’ve been saving on coffee toward a gift card to your favorite café. Support them now, treat yourself later.


  1. Donate if you can.

A simple donation to a local business you love could make a world of difference during this uncertain time. Consider contacting the business to find out how best to express your support—weekly orders or consistent patronage may be preferred to a single direct donation.

  1. Take up writing reviews.

In the absence of foot traffic, local businesses depend heavily on word of mouth. If there’s a local shop or restaurant deserving of your praise, shout it from the metaphorical rooftops. Leave positive reviews on Yelp, Google or Facebook or simply share your recommendations with your local friends and family.


  1. Seek out online offerings.

Your local yoga instructor or independently-owned gym may be teaching classes via Zoom. Individuals like financial planners or tax preparers may be switching to an online business model. Children’s classes and activities might be available via video as well. With the availability of small business-led online offerings, you might even discover a new hobby—like pottery or cooking—now that you’re free to make mistakes and practice a new skill set from the comfort of your home.


The vitality of our communities relies heavily on the health of local vendors. This is a challenging time for many, but if you are in a position to help, please consider prioritizing  purchases from local businesses now and in the future.