AUTHOR: Morgan Marks
The Local is passionate about supporting local businesses and organizations. During the COVID-19 outbreak, we feel that community support is more important now than ever before. Here are a few ways to make a big impact on our local community.
Be understanding of changes in hours and services
Local businesses and organizations are doing their very best to keep their doors open, provide valuable services and experiences, and keep their community thriving. Their hours of operation and the services they offer are likely to shift and flex with the ongoing stream of new information. Please remember to be kind and recognize that we are all adapting to changes at a fast pace. To stay in the loop about hours and services please check out this Google doc created by a group of local volunteers that outlines the status of businesses and what they’re offering at this time. http://helenasmallbiz.com/
Purchase gift cards to use at a later time
One of the best ways to support local businesses is to purchase gift cards to use later when the dust settles. Gift cards will create cash flow for local businesses right now in order to stay operating. Many of us have favorite locales that we frequent and even if we can’t visit them in person, we’ll definitely use a gift card in the near future.
Shop local online
Countless local businesses have adapted their business models to support customers with online shopping. Some have even gone so far as to offer free local delivery. In a matter of days, yoga studios have begun offering virtual classes and many businesses have created online stores to make virtual shopping easier.
Stock up at local stores and businesses
As much as you can and are able, it’s time to shop local and put your dollars into our local economy. Stock up on your favorite things, like tea and coffee from local coffee shops and cafes, a few growlers from a local brewery, snacks and staples from local grocery stores such as Van’s Thriftway or a few bottles of wine or liquor from the local bottle shop and distilleries.
Pay with plastic when possible
Let’s face it, cash is not the cleanest way to pay. This may seem counterintuitive due to credit card fees. However, by using plastic cards, you’ll ensure that fewer germs are spread between people. Remember to be aware of what you’re touching and make sure you are mindful of washing your hands.
Donate to charities with items from local stores
It’s a simple equation: when you support one local business and donate to another local organization, it’s a win-win! Informing yourself about the needs of local organizations and charities is the first step to supporting them and making sure that whatever your donation is, that it is needed and will support community members. For example, perhaps an organization such as the Friendship Center or YWCA Helena could use books. What better place to purchase books to donate than our local bookstores?
Check-in with business owners & employees
Kindness goes a long way in times like this. Sending a message to check-in and see how business owners and their employees are doing is another way to show your support. Whether it’s an email or leaving a message on their social media, your words matter and will surely bring a smile to a business owner's face by reminding them that they’re valued and that we’re all in this together.
Order food for takeout or delivery
After being cooped up, working from home, or coming back from a long day at work, there is sometimes nothing better than ordering takeout. Many local businesses are offering delivery as well. Be sure to check out the Google doc because whatever you’re in the mood for, we’re pretty confident you’ll be able to order takeout with curbside pick-up or delivery and eat well when you do! http://helenasmallbiz.com/
Share their posts on social media
Another very simple way of showing support is to share social media posts from local businesses and organizations. Information is changing rapidly and one way to stay informed is to follow the accounts of places you love and to make sure that you’re helping those places outreach about their hours and the services they’re offering. All it takes is a few clicks and you’ve helped share information to better inform others! The more people that are “in the know,” the better.
It’s in times like this where we must lean on our community, support one another and not only verbalize that we are “all in this together,” but take action to make that phrase come alive and truly matter in our everyday choices and actions. Every action has an impact - every single one.
Please make sure that while you’re supporting local businesses and organizations, you’re also following local public health office guidelines to stay safe and care for yourself. Your health and the health of your family comes first. A few good websites to check out are:
Montana Department of Health and Human Services: https://dphhs.mt.gov/publichealth/cdepi/diseases/coronavirusmt
Lewis & Clark Public Health Department:
1930 9th Ave, Helena, MT 59601
Office: (406) 447-8361
Fax: (406) 457-8990
It’s important that with our current context and social isolation we recognize that we all are going to have both financial, social and health concerns so if you are experiencing anxiety and stress, please reach out and receive support!
Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) and Text Line 741-741.