One of the many devastating effects of COVID-19 and sheltering in place has been its financial impact on small businesses that rely on in-person interaction. The service industry, including your favorite, restaurants, bars, boutiques, and cafés are hanging on by a thread due to government mandated limitations. If you're in a place where you can help those who need it and are wondering how to, we've rounded up a few ways you can still contribute to small businesses, while maintaining social distancing recommendations:
Rather than buying bread from a chain grocery store, consider purchasing it from a locally owned bakery. On Tuesday, Leslie ordered a loaf of bread from Tartine on Sycamore (not local, but also not huge). Another favorite, Bub and Grandma's is partnering with Belle's Bagels in Highland Park to sell bread.
Similarly, consider ordering other basics like coffee from your favorite coffee shop or marinara sauce from the Italian spot down the street—which will also save you a potentially packed grocery store run. Some restaurants are even converting into corner stores in L.A. Support them! Don't forget to tip generously, if you're able to! Every dollar counts.
Since protocol is still changing day by day, Instagram tends to be a bit more up-to-date than an official business website. Check Eater, your local news, and Instagram for updates on restaurants putting together creative delivery packages in the absence of in-person service, or that are even offering delivery when they previously had not (see this list for L.A.). In L.A., Employees Only, where we had our company's holiday party, has created a build-your-own cocktail kit and Guerrilla Tacos is offering an "Emergency Taco Kit" that comes with a whole lot of food, plus toilet paper.
Bonus: Many businesses are offering free Instagram Live classes and community-building events during this time of social separation. For example, our Editorial Intern Natalie is attending a The Wine Zine x Brightland Natural Wine 101 class at 7pm ET tonight on Instagram. See you there!
Small businesses, like independent bookstores, that have closed temporarily are offering creative solutions. While it is certainly easy to do our online shopping from big e-commerce corporations, it is so important to support these smaller businesses through such a difficult time. In L.A., Skylight is doing drive-by pickup, Diesel is offering good-read recommendations via email or phone, and Book Soup has discounted shipping. For all other stores, check their Instagram or consider calling to see if you can purchase a gift card or order online in the interim. And if you're ordering food in, try doing so by phone or from the restaurant directly to ensure that they don't lose part of their profit to a third-party delivery system.
Simply reach out to any person you know whose job requires person-to-person contact and ask them how you can help. Send a quick text to your facialist, manicurist, trainer, tutor, nanny, hairdresser, or dry cleaner to see if they offer the option to purchase sessions or a gift card in advance to get them through this time with little to no business. And if you can't give them financial support right now, reach out anyways! Tell them you're thinking of them, and can't wait to book an appointment as soon as this is all over. Or better yet, leave them a great review online so that they hit the ground running once they reopen.
Media companies may seem stable at the moment, but ads and sponsored opportunities are likely on hold for your favorite smaller media sources, like podcasts and radio stations. If you have a favorite podcast, consider donating to them. If they have a Patreon, now is the time to sign up for it! If your favorite entertainer is on Cameo, order a video for a friend who could use a cheerful, personalized gram! Been meaning to finally subscribe to that newspaper you've been reading online? Now is the time! Most entertainers and media sources could likely use the support, and you likely have a bit more time on your hands to enjoy the content they've created for you.
P.S., It never hurts to donate to nonprofits either! Consider donating to Feeding America, CDC Foundation, the Gates Foundation, and/or the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, if you have the means to. If you don't have the financial means, there are other ways to donate: Make an appointment to donate blood, if you feel comfortable since there are reported shortages, or donate your time online to Crisis Text Line. Stay healthy and safe!