They’re hurting. Here are ways you can help.
A lot of small businesses operate on thin margins. Like people that live paycheck-to-paycheck, these businesses live month-to-month. They can’t survive for a couple of months if their revenue goes to zero. Retail businesses still have to pay the rent.
And, since these businesses support their employees, when the business goes under, so go the jobs.
Here are some things you can do to support small businesses in your area during this pandemic:
Buy gift cards: Gift cards are essentially an interest-free loan to a business. Right now, buying gift cards will help businesses pay their rent while no income is coming in the door. There is a risk, of course, that the business won’t make it and you’ll be stuck with a worthless gift card. Buy gift cards with your credit card; the card issuer might provide some protection against this.
Get takeout: With governments shutting down dining-room seating, now is an excellent time to order takeout from your favorite restaurants. Some around me are even offering delivery for the first time as a way to keep customers. Oh, and tip generously.
Keep paying for services you can’t use: If you are financially able, consider paying service providers that you can’t use right now. For example, if you suspend your housekeeping service, think about paying your housekeeper anyway.
Hire contractors: Independent tradespeople have gone from feast to famine. For the past decade, it could be challenging to get a contractor even to return your call. That sidewalk you’ve been thinking about putting in? Now might be a great time to inquire. (I’m assuming it’s something that can be done without putting people at risk of spreading the virus.)
Cut your lessees some slack: If you’re a retail landlord, figure out how you can work with your tenants rather than shutting them down. This is going to cause a retail apocalypse. We can hope it’s short-lived, and it’s smarter to let your tenants pay over time than to lose them altogether.
Feel free to chime in with other ideas.