In late 2010, as the United States continued its slow climb out of the Great Recession, American Express, one of the country’s largest global brands, decided to think small. Small business, that is.
For readers who don’t recall, this is how Small Business Saturday began. American Express began popularizing a campaign that, after spending heaps of cash at big box stores on Black Friday, shoppers turn their attention – and their wallets – to the small businesses that line their small-town streets. By 2011 the Senate passed a unanimous resolution in support of the unofficial holiday.
Today Small Business Saturday is well established. Shoppers spent a whopping $19.2 billion on Saturday, November 30, 2019.
Of course, there’s more to supporting local businesses than only shopping small one day of the year. In the rapidly emerging post-COVID world, consumers must make “shop local” their daily mantra. While Wall Street may have recouped much of its losses, Main St. has not. Ensuring their survival means that even all of us need to “act local” – even if you’re a branding doing business overseas.
"CDC” (Commercial Development Capitalization) Guidelines
Beyond that Saturday afternoon stroll along tree-lined streets browsing in stores or dining al fresco, here are some additional ways we can all help bring Main St. back.
- #usesocialmedia – This may sound obvious, but in the post-COVID world, the use of social media to help drive business will be more critical than ever. Even if snapshot feels trivial, a quick shout out to a local business like a supermarket or a café will remind other shoppers that, yes, they are open. Recognition on social media is even more important in businesses like gyms, where members may still be reluctant to re-engage. And if your local fitness center offers it, promote any virtual classes they provide.
- Curbside pickup and call ahead – Remember that many businesses are partially open, offering services like curbside pickup. And even if your favorite restaurant isn’t on Grub Hub or Uber Eats (it can be costly for a business to join these apps), many restaurants are reverting to in-house delivery services. Remember to tip and enjoy your meal.
- From donuts to dollars – Not only should patrons shop and eat locally, but they should also consider donating to national organizations raising funds for their respective small business operations. DJs, for instance, central to America’s once-vibrant party scene, have been particularly hard hit. And nightclubs, if mentioned at all during state and local press conferences, are often classified as “Phase 3” reopening businesses.
- Rebook, reschedule, rejoice – Keeping with the entertainment scene focus, just because your special day was cancelled this year doesn’t mean it can’t be rescheduled once the pandemic is over. Local businesses are struggling with lost revenue, while also suffering a cash flow problem. Consider rolling over your deposit for that re-scheduled date instead of asking for a refund.
- Extend spring cleaning into summer – One of the ways we’ve all kept busy these last few months is by doing housework – specifically yard maintenance and landscaping, even the purchase of upgraded deck furniture. If you’ve been putting off some long-delayed house projects – building a new room, replacing a roof, installing a new central AC unit, now is a great time to do it. With many people saving money not going on vacation, contract work season is in full swing.
- Volunteerism is in vogue – Another way individuals can help your favorite local business is through volunteering. If you’ve been furloughed or have lost your job outright, volunteering will be good for all parties involved. Offer to be a driver for food delivery. Maybe donate ink or a printer for marketing costs. Or spend a few hours each day at the business helping out.
- Gift Cards: the gift that keeps giving— In a sense, a gift card is a down payment on a future purchase. Even if your favorite local business has had to cut back some, purchasing gift cards is a way to ensure you or someone you know, will be incentivized to spend their money at this establishment again once the pandemic has passed. Buy in bulk now, and you’ll be good to go for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, you name it.
“Open for Business” Always
In only a few months, it’s hard to comprehend just how much our world has changed. And how much those three little words have come to mean for struggling small businesses. The good news is that Americans are a compassionate lot. And the latest data suggests that three-quarters of us plan to do more to support local establishments.
For many of us, as with the staggering loss of life, COVID’s economic impacts are also personal. More than half of us (57 percent), according to a Groupon OnePoll study, know at least one local business impacted by the pandemic.
At Worldesk, a leading fintech solution for currency management and automation, we know the value our Main Street businesses provide. Why? Because we started as one too. Our story is your story.
Worldesk has successfully helped business owners and executives navigate a volatile international marketplace with full transparency and the tools they need to save money, reduce exposure, and safeguard profit margins.
But sometimes, safeguarding profit margins isn’t about managing global relationships or even international currencies.
Sometimes all it takes is to stroll down that tree-lined main street, walk into your favorite local business and open your wallet… along with your heart.
Together let’s make Small Business Everyday a campaign we can all buy into – COVID-19, or not.