April 15, 2020

9 Ways People are Supporting Small Businesses During the Coronavirus

Now, more than ever, it is crucial that we support our communities in whatever ways we can—whether that’s by ordering items online, or sharing photos of the messages small businesses in your area have put up for everyone to see. Uplifting your community doesn’t have to require money or a large amount of time; just taking a moment to explore how the businesses near you have been adapting to this crisis (primarily via their websites or other social media platforms) can be hugely informative, and feeling informed and connected to your community can give you a positive boost, too.

Check out some of the ways communities around the country are supporting their Main Streets below. (And for specific examples on how to support your local businesses, see our article on Five Ways You Can Support Your Main Street Businesses During the Coronavirus). You can explore all of the sites mentioned below (and more!) on this map created by Main Street America.

1Chinatown Main Street in Boston, Massachusetts, spent a day delivering information about COVID-19 in seven languages to their community in an effort to provide everyone with up-to-date news on how to stay safe. They also created a comprehensive spreadsheet and QR code on Instagram that outlines which local businesses are open and how they can be contacted (which makes it extremely easy for locals to know where and how they can support local businesses).

2The Eastern Market Main Street in Washington, D.C., recently hosted a “Porch Happy Hour" and recommended that all participants order food or drinks from local businesses. Everyone in the community was able to enjoy dinner with each other from the safety of their porches or balconies, while simultaneously supporting their Main Street.

3 Two local quilting businesses on the Main Street of Coshocton, Ohio, have started fashioning face masks for service providers and home health agencies (who can order their masks over the phone). One of the retailers, Mercantile on Main, is also creating mask-making kits for locals to pick up so that they can create masks themselves before donating them to a local health office. Check out their Facebook page for more information on mask-making, including this tutorial on how you can make a mask yourself.

4 Downtown Laramie, Wyoming, has created a comprehensive resource page for locals, which includes everything from community updates to recommended virtual entertainment. They’ve also created profile frames for Facebook and templates for Instagram so that locals can show their support for small businesses.

5 Some Main Streets have started creating bingo boards (for example, this one from Downtown Owosso in Michigan) that incentivize locals supporting small businesses in safe ways. Squares include varieties of delivery and ordering options, as well as non-financial means of support, such as “leave a positive review for a local small business” and “set up a virtual coffee date with friends.” Bingo winners can then win gift cards by emailing in their completed boards and any necessary proofs of purchase.

6 “Making it with Main Street” is a new video series that downtown Durant, Oklahoma, has started in an effort to keep local residents and businesses connected by creating virtual events for all to attend and engage with (including an event about board games hosted by their local toy store).

7 To beautify their downtown areas, a number of Main Streets have started enlisting the help of local volunteers and business owners to try their hands at sidewalk chalk art (like Downtown Kenosha, Wisconsin).

8In addition to sidewalk chalk, colorful signs have also been providing locals with a positive boost. Check out these posters that now line the streets of downtown Albany, Georgia, where small businesses have been posting warm quotes and messages in their windows.

9 To learn more about the ways communities are banding together during this unusual time, check out Main Street America’s "COVID-19 Community Response Roundup: Caring for Caretakers & Teddy Bear Hunts." Main Street America has also created a resource page for residents and small businesses, which is being updated regularly as new information is released.

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Emma Peters is the marketing assistant at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. A history graduate, she is constantly humbled by the way past lives and societies can alter the way we consume the present.


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