The world today looks drastically different than it did just a few weeks ago. Words like “pandemic,” “quarantine,” and “social distancing” were not yet a part of our daily vocabulary. At least not here in Charleston. But now, our worlds have been turned upside down with no idea of what tomorrow, next week, or the next few months may bring.
Friends, along with the concern for our health comes the very real impact that this will have on our economy, and more specifically, our local Lowcountry small businesses. The economic effects of COVID-19 are being felt all over the world, and small business owners are feeling it. Difficult decisions are having to be made, and swiftly to keep up with how fast things are changing.
These are some of the questions small business owners are being faced with:
- How am I going to cover my overhead expenses with income declining or at a halt?
- How am I going to pay my staff with these things happening?
- How am I going to take care of my kids who are out of school while also running my business?
- What am I going to do for childcare?
- How will I be able to take care of my own expenses without being able to pay myself?
- How can we still serve our customers in the current state of affairs?
Business owners are terrified with no idea how long this might last and what the long-term ramifications might be. Small businesses are the heart and soul of our community. They enrich our local economy by keeping dollars close to home while bringing life and community to our neighborhoods. They allow creative entrepreneurs to share their talents and skills while diversifying the economic landscape. We need these businesses to keep Charleston the vibrant, quaint city that it has always has been.
Here are some ways you can help:
With social distancing in place, visiting our favorite local stores or restaurants may not be realistic right now, but there are some things you can do in the meantime and in the future.
- Post and share about them on social media. Love a small business and want the world to know? Post about it! We may not be able to visit them in person right now, but social media is a powerful tool and can very much be used for good here. Share specials they are having, or even just why you love them.
- Consider purchasing gift certificates to your favorite shops, restaurants, or businesses that you could either gift to a friend or keep for yourself. This will help the bottom line of these small businesses while they try to stay on their feet and recover! Womens Entrepreneurs Inc is launching a Gift Card Marketplace on March 23 which features discounted digital vouchers from local women-owned businesses that can be bought today and redeemed up to one year later. (*Please note, you do need to be a member of Womens Entrepreneurs Inc to purchase; however, if you have financial concerns, they have stated that you can reach out to them directly.)
- Write them an online review. Positive reviews mean more than ever now as people carefully research their purchasing decisions.
- Order takeout or delivery from your favorite restaurants. With so many local places offering curbside pickup or free delivery, now is the perfect time to order from some new places you’ve been wanting to try (or stick with your tried and true!)
- Send them an email or message on social media letting them know how much you appreciate them and love their business. The power of words is amazing. Encourage your friends to do the same.
- Before purchasing something from a big box store, think about if it is something you can buy locally first. Many stores are offering free delivery or curbside pickup and by taking advantage of that, it’s a win-win for all.
If you are a small business owner, now is more important than ever to connect with fellow local business owners and networking organizations. Here are some of our favorites:
- Hatch Tribe Collective has reduced their monthly membership to just $5 for 60 days. They are an amazing community of women entrepreneurs and the virtual resources available for small business owners is incredible, especially during times like these.
- Lowcountry Locals First is organizing a list of ways local businesses are pivoting their service offerings. Tell them how your business is responding to the impacts of COVID-19 here.
- Women Entrepreneurs Inc
- SCORE Charleston SC
- Mom Moguls Charleston, SC (You’ll need to request access to join the group.)
This is just the tip of the iceberg for how to support small, local businesses. While this post was inspired by current events, really, it’s important ALL the time. If we missed something – please let us know.
For all of our COVID-19 related resources included activities for kids, virtual learning, self-care for parents, local updated information and MORE, check out our guide for COVID-19.