A large percentage of our attendees at MailCon are entrepreneurs, freelancers, and startup founders—and that is why we are so attuned to the health and economic crisis that has enveloped our country because of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus).
While digital businesses are able to stay on course, brick-and-mortar retailers, neighborhood bars and restaurants, travel and hospitality companies, and many, many other local businesses are being severely impacted by the stay-at-home measures enacted across the country.
Many of our attendees, exhibitors, and sponsors might be wondering how they can help lessen the economic impact this pandemic is already wreaking on people and businesses in their community. Luckily, there are many ways we can come together (while staying apart) to combat this virus and support small businesses everywhere that are struggling.
#1 Stop the Spread
Without question, the first directive of every citizen should be to stop the spread of the virus. That means following stay-at-home orders in states and municipalities where such orders have been issued and following the CDC’s Guidelines for protection and prevention. This includes washing your hands regularly, disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, and maintaining distance from other people by staying in your home and avoiding contact with others (or staying at least 6 feet apart).
The more that everyone can help “flatten the curve,” the better the chances are of containing the spread of the virus and getting some businesses open again.
#2 Eat Local
With everyone staying in, there has never been a better time to order out. Getting takeout or delivery from local restaurants—especially those that are family-owned—is a great way to make sure these businesses get at least some income during this very lean time.
It is the perfect time to treat yourself to your favorite pasta dish from the Italian place in your neighborhood or a good excuse to try that Thai food spot you’ve always heard great things about. If you don’t feel like filling up on too much restaurant food, you can also call and see if they offer gift cards—then you can use it for future evenings out or just stockpile a bunch that you can give out around the holidays.
#3 Shop Small
Your community’s small businesses like clothing retailers, bookstores, flower shops, and more could all use a leg up during this time as well. Check their websites to see if you can do some online shopping, plenty of local stores have created modified online processes so you can keep patronizing their business even if they have temporarily shut their doors.
If you have a favorite salon or barber, you can call or go online to see if you can buy a gift card for future treatment or haircut. Certainly, many will flock to these spots once the stay at home orders are lifted!
#4 Donate and Volunteer
Ultimately, there’s so much that needs to be done and if you have more free time than usual, there are plenty of opportunities to give your time and resources. For example, the group Meals on Wheels has the mission to deliver healthy meals to senior citizens—something that is especially important now for that high-risk group. They are currently encouraging people to donate or volunteer and help make sure that no seniors need to put their health at risk to get a meal.
There is also a great need for blood donations at this time: many blood drives across the country were abruptly canceled because of the virus. Now, the American Red Cross has opened blood donation centers at reduced capacity, and with all necessary health precautions, so that individuals can go in and donate blood.
Also if you have a favorite business that just can’t be patronized at this time, like an independent movie theater or a weekly local paper, they may be offering memberships or other ways to contribute to their cause to help them weather the storm and stay afloat during this difficult period. Every little bit can help your favorite small businesses make it through!
#5 Stay Connected
Following stay-at-home orders can be isolating—those used to going in to work every day or meeting friends at the bar are facing major disruption on their social lives. The best way to combat this sense of loneliness is to reach out through digital means. Check in with friends over texts or social media. Keep office chat lines open. You can even organize a video chat “happy hour” with friends or plan to FaceTime with relatives.
Larger groups have also offered virtual community options—churches are livestreaming services and there are a variety of live comedy and music events that will be beamed out from the safety of artists’ homes. Participating in such group live streams acts as a great reminder of the common cause of staying at home to beat this virus and that all of us are “Alone Together”.