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How to Support a Northern Michigan Small Business During the Pandemic

As of May 13, 2020, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the US rose to 1,322,054 with 79,634 deaths reported, and these numbers are likely to  continue rising. States, townships and cities are being called upon to take intensive action to halt the spread of this pandemic.

Social distancing is the main strategy being used across America to help prevent the virus from spreading. Events have been canceled, gatherings of large groups of people are prohibited, schools have temporarily closed or moved online, and nonessential businesses have closed, reduced their hours, or minimized their offerings. Small and local businesses are  suffering, but if communities are vigilant, there are several ways you can still support your favorite spots. 

Tip #1: Purchase Gift Cards

Consider buying a gift card for your favorite coffee shop, hair salon, restaurant or bar to visit at a later time, or get them as gifts for a friend or family member. Some cafes and eateries may even accept payment online, eliminating the need to visit in person.

Tip #2: Buy Local Produce 

Visit your local farmer's market and stock up on vegetables, fruits, or local proteins.   If you're a weekly customer, consider purchasing a bit more than usual, as the market may have to close in weeks to come. Freezing, canning, or finding creative ways to utilize these local veggies and fruits is another way to spend the extra time allotted from social distancing.  The Sara Hardy Downtown Farmers Market in Traverse City has launched online ordering, and markets in other communities may offer the same option.

Tip #3: Shop for Products Online

If a restaurant or coffee shop that you love sells products online, consider checking out their offerings and ordering a few. Whether it’s a branded t-shirt, hat or coffee maker, purchasing products from local businesses can help sustain them during the pandemic. You can also consider purchasing artwork or albums online from smaller artists or musicians who will miss out on extra sales from canceled events, art shows, and concerts.

Tip #4: Purchase Books from a Local Bookstore

While forms of entertainment are canceled or prohibited, reading is an excellent way to stay busy and productive. Picking up some books from the bookstore for yourself and your family can help small businesses stay afloat.  Our local favorite is Brilliant Books.  

Tip #5: Order Food for Delivery or Take-Out 

While some restaurants have closed completely, others still offer delivery, curbside, or take-out options. Consider ordering food from a local restaurant for pick-up, and tip a bit more to help out the workers who will be missing out on a large portion of their pay. You can also opt for delivery, if possible. Some delivery platforms, like Grubhub, are doing things such as eliminating commission fees for independent restaurants.  

Tip #6: Donate Your Refund

If you were scheduled to attend an event, concert, or show that was canceled, donating your refund back is an immense help to organizations, artists, and performers who will no longer be able to exercise a central portion of their livelihood. You can also choose to donate the refunded amount to other individuals, organizations, or restaurants. 

Tip #7: Help Local Businesses to Market Themselves

Spread the word about your favorite coffee shops, restaurants, and stores. You can do this by leaving online reviews, interacting with their social media posts and sharing their accounts with your own following. These small marketing efforts can go a long way when it comes to attracting new patrons.

Preventing the spread of this pandemic requires effort from each individual, state and country. Just as health risks are on the rise, however, the financial implications are also increasingly wearisome. By supporting local businesses in creative ways, you can help sustain your favorite shops, restaurants and bars through the upcoming hardships. 


Personal Note From Eric

On a personal note, we are continuing to find new ways to have fun or just do things a little differently.  As many of you know, my wife, Jodi, loves to compete in events from the Bayshore Marathon to the Ironman.  Since races and events are being canceled because of Covid-19, Jodi thought it would be great to sign up for a virtual run, and decided it would be fun to include the entire family (how thoughtful of her)!  

What the heck is a virtual run?  For those of you who are not familiar with this sort of event, here is how it works.  You simply run the designated 5k, 10k, or whatever distance race - anytime, anywhere.  You can even run on your treadmill (we are running outside and spaced appropriately).  

Check out our virtual run, CRUSHCORONA, a portion of the money is benefiting the First Responders Children’s Foundation.  Audrey, Max, and I will all be running the 5k race, and Jodi will be running the 10k race. It is just a hunch, but I am feeling like I may end up last on this one.  At least it is all for fun and charity!


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