Shopping in the Age of COVID-19: Support Small Businesses

Nov 19, 2020

In the big picture, it may seem like your purchases don’t carry much weight. And let’s face it, who wouldn’t want their purchases delivered with free shipping during a pandemic? While it’s true that the convenience of online shopping from stores like Amazon, Target, and Walmart is highly valued, we also need to look at the value that small businesses bring through jobs, talent, and community. This holiday season, with a very unusual Black Friday just around the corner, think about how you want to support your community and small businesses around the world. It doesn’t just have to be on November 28th, Small Business Saturday. Many small businesses are online now, so you can still support them any time without any additional risk (though you will probably have to pay shipping). If you are about to make a purchase from a large retailer, take a moment to think if this purchase can be made at a small business instead. In many cases, it is possible and can even save you money.

You’ll probably make the most positive impact if you research local businesses near your home. Here are a few ideas on how to do that. 

Research

  • Go to AmericanExpress.com and use their small business finder. (The first Small Business Saturday event was created by American Express.)
  • Ask in neighborhood facebook groups or other social networks for ideas on supporting local businesses in your area. 
  • Look for ads in local publications or coupon mailers.
  • Explore a nearby town (or downtown) to see if you can discover any new stores or restaurants.
  • See what local farms are offering. You can likely order flower arrangements, wreaths, canned goods, and more. 
  • Odds are you have an acquaintance who owns or works for a small business or is an artisan. Reach out and see what they are offering. 

Local ideas

  • Support a local photographer by booking a family, pet, or professional headshot photoshoot.
  • Support local and independent book and music stores by searching in your area. 
  • Support local music teachers by gifting music lessons. 

Other ways to support small businesses could be by using websites like these: 

Here are some of my favorite small businesses to shop from that have online stores:

  • Pucci Manuli - Unique, handmade, and artisanal toys, books, and gifts. Their matchbox mouses are a million times cuter than LOL dolls. 
  • Roost Home - This boutique in Ambler, PA, has a great selection of decor and fun gifts. 
  • McFadden Farm - Made-to-order fragrant wreaths of bay leaves, rosemary, and more. I received a gift from here once and now order from them regularly.
  • Uncommon Goods - Remarkable designs by independent makers, with a positive impact on both people and our planet.
  • Tselaine - My favorite boutique in Philadelphia has an online store. I’ve bought awesome bags, coats, accessories, and gifts here for years.
  • Zingermans - Give the gift of food, baked goods, and specialty olive oils. 
  • Patreon - Patreon is a platform that lets creators (like podcasters, musicians, yoga teachers, and writers) earn a monthly income by giving their subscribers access to exclusive content and custom rewards. I am supporting some of my favorite yoga teachers this way since they can’t teach in studios due to COVID-19. 

I hope these suggestions are helpful, both to shoppers and small businesses! There are many unique gifts out there in your own neighborhood, just waiting to be found. (If you are planning to shop in person, be sure to follow any local COVID-19 guidelines and orders.) Even if you can’t shop, you can still support small businesses by writing positive reviews online, signing up for their newsletters, and following them on social media. Don’t underestimate how much a shout out or friendly recommendation can help a business grow. Happy Thanksgiving!