More than 60 percent of the nearly 164,000 businesses listed on Yelp have permanently closed because of the pandemic. This holiday season, buying locally and supporting our remaining small business matters more than ever.
We love our Seattle community, and if you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you do, too. Together, we can help our neighbors. 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 to buy those items. This year, I’m trying something different. I made a list of small businesses I want to support, and then I went to their websites for inspiration. This way, I know I’ll be able to support small and local businesses—and I’ll end up with more creative presents.
If you DO have specific gifts in mind, you’ll almost always be able to find that item from a local business somewhere. It might cost a little more, but a few dollars’ difference could be what saves a beloved small business this year.
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 to 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 to 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 ways you can help if spending isn’t in the cards for you right now. It also has a dedicated page with ways 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. 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 get creative this year, there’s no better place than a small business. Each small business is unique, with personalized service that doesn’t follow big-box store scripts or corporate standards. You can get personal recommendations, find all sorts of surprises, and connect with an entrepreneur or employee who loves talking about their work and suggesting ideas. You don’t need an exact shopping a list at a small business—simply enter with a general 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 the only tool you have for supporting small businesses. Use your 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’re feeling especially generous, you can post a photo of you with one of their products. Following small businesses on social media and signing up for their newsletter helps, too—the more engagement a business receives online, 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 that 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, and the physical difficulty of operating a business safely during a cold, pandemic-ridden Seattle winter all while keeping their employees safe. Your patience and generosity goes a LONG way. If a small business gets your order wrong, can’t deliver on time, or otherwise disappoints you—it’s usually not a big deal. Really. On the other hand, if you can shrug it off, show grace, and leave a bigger tip than usual anyway, your kindness will feel like a very big deal to that business.
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.