Almost 70 percent of small businesses are still negatively impacted by the pandemic, and more than 34 percent of the nearly small businesses are remain closed. Black and Asian-owned businesses have suffered most of all.
This holiday season, as the pandemic, supply chain issues, and labor shortages continue to hurt small businesses, buying local and supporting our remaining small businesses matters more than ever.
We’ve complied a few resources and strategies for how to support our local small businesses during this time of need.
1. Shop stores, then people
Normally, I think of specific gifts for my loved ones, and then I look up where I can find those items. This year, however, I did something different different:
I made a list of small businesses I wanted to support, then shopped their websites looking for inspiration. Not only did it help a small business, it let me pick out more creative presents. If you do have specific gifts in mind, you can almost always find it from a local business somewhere. It might cost a little more, but a few dollars’ difference to you is a full sale’s difference to the businesses.
To find small businesses near you easily, here are four tools:
A. Shop Your Block: The City of Seattle’s “Shop Your Block” connects people with local retail small businesses in Seattle. You can search for small businesses by name, neighborhood, product keywords, or interactive map. “Shop Your Block” spans North Seattle to South Seattle.
B. Intentionalist: Intentionalist is an online guide for intentional spending that supports small businesses and diverse local communities. Intentionalist makes it easy to find local small businesses, restaurants, shops, and more owned by women, people of color, veterans, LGBTQ, families, and differently abled people.
C. Seattle Good: At Seattle Good, you’ll find running lists of local businesses that are finding creative ways to stay in the game–along with other ways you can help if spending isn’t in the cards for you right now. It also has a dedicated page with ideas of how to support Black-owned businesses and communities in Seattle.
D. The GSBA: The GSBA represents LGBTQ+ and allied small businesses throughout Washington. The GSBA proudly serves as a connector across the region that brings the community together. You can click here to access their directory and find many deserving small businesses. You’ll find us in there, too!
2. Shop without a plan
If you don’t know what to give someone, or if you’re just feeling stuck in a rut or want to give more interesting presents this year, there’s no better place than a small business. Each is unique, with personalized services that don’t follow big-box store scripts or corporate standards. You can get genuine recommendations, discover surprises, and connect with an entrepreneur who loves sharing their passion.
You don’t need an exact shopping a list at a small business. Just enter with a vague idea of what you want—or even no idea at all—and they’ll help you find something personal.
Forget generic. Shop local.
3. Leave reviews
Your wallet isn’t your only tool for supporting small businesses. Use words! Authentic reviews from real people make or break small businesses. You can leave positive, detailed reviews on a small business’s Google, Yelp, or Facebook page. If you want to go the extra mile, you can post a photo of you using one of their products.
Following small businesses on social media and signing up for their newsletter helps, too—the more online engagement a business receives, the wider its content gets distributed to potential new customers.
You can support us the same way: leave a review or follow us on social media. Here’s a link that makes it easy.
4. Show kindness and patience
Another non-financial way to help? Emotional support. A “normal” holiday season is already chaotic for small businesses, since they don’t have the luxury of seasonal hiring surges like giant corporations do. This year, it’s even harder. Small businesses have to deal with COVID safety measures, belligerent/anti-mask customers, supply-chain and shipping complications, labor shortages, and the physical difficulty of operating a business safely during a cold, pandemic-ridden Seattle winter. Your patience and generosity goes a LONG way.
5. Update your house or make repairs
If you have a project or remodel you’ve been putting off, there’s no time like the present to keep someone in work. Here’s our list of general contractors, handymen, electricians, etc who we recommend. After more than thirty years of working in Seattle’s real estate market, we know who’s reliable and fair. Whatever you need to do on your house, we’ve got someone who can help.
6. Order out and relax
As local restaurants, bakeries, butchers, specialty food stores, and cafes struggle this year, you can help by NOT struggling. Instead of cooking this holiday season, order out and relax! If you don’t want to overwhelm businesses on Christmas or New Year’s Eve, you can find things to buy early and freeze. Bakery items make great gifts, and meat from local butchers or produce from a CSA will keep in the fridge. Local food with fewer food miles will also taste better than what you’d find in a major chain grocery store.
So much of Seattle’s distinctiveness comes from its small businesses. We love this community, and together, we can make a difference this holiday season.