Living

5 Extra Ways to Support Small Businesses (That Don’t Cost a Dime!)

published Nov 7, 2021
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Friends sitting together outside coffee shop on city street
Credit: Getty Images | Granger Wootz

When it comes time to celebrate weddings, holidays, birthdays, and other special occasions, there are plenty of opportunities to bring a present or two along — and that means you might spend a few hours or even days fretting over what to get, and where to get it from. And while it is certainly convenient to click over to a major retailer, why not prioritize that cute little shop down the street?

Initiatives that urge people to buy things from locally-owned retailers, such as Small Business Saturday, often highlight the importance of generating traffic and increasing holiday sales for small, independently-owned companies, which have been hit hard the past few years. Shopping in-person takes a bit more effort, but independently-owned companies need support now more than ever.

“When looking to buy something, choose a small business instead of Amazon,” advises Renee Brown, the co-founder of Weaver’s Coffee & Tea in San Rafael, California. If you have a designated amount to spend on a gift, stop into your local shops or look for a small venture online to support. And while they’d gladly have your dollars in exchange for your wares, there are several extra ways you can help businesses out, foster community, and do your part to keep them afloat without forking over additional funds. Here are five additional ways to support small businesses — without spending a dime.

Interact with social media posts. 

If you see a small business’s page post something that piques your interest, give it some love in the form of likes, comments, and video views — and be authentic about it. “Genuinely engage with us on social media and tag a friend,” suggests Francois Bernaudin, the owner and CEO of Bonjour Bakehouse in San Mateo, California. 

Not only do businesses appreciate the affirmation, but various platform algorithms boost posts that followers interact with, meaning that the content has a higher likelihood of showing up in other people’s feeds, too. “It is always helpful when the community shares content and re-posts when the small business is offering any sort of sales and deals onto their own platforms,” says Alexandria Gilleo, the founder and owner of My Zen Den in Beacon, New York. Doing so can also help your friends, as many people are on the lookout for special promotions around the holidays, especially if they’re trying to spend wisely.

Create your own content.

You don’t need influencer status to snap a few photos of a product you love, or take a quick video and share on social platforms. Sara Shah, the co-founder and co-CEO of Journ in New York City, suggests creating a testimonial video; if the brand has an account on the platform of your choosing, tag them when you upload it. “The key is to help tell people why you love the small business and why they should check it out too,” she says. The video doesn’t need to be professionally edited or feature complex dance moves, either. You can make a simple video showing yourself using the product, talking about your experience with the establishment, or highlighting outstanding customer service.

Leave a review.

Writing a review is a personal way to expand upon your experience. A star rating coupled with its reasoning goes a long way in encouraging strangers to head to a small business. Sites like Google, Facebook, and Yelp allow reviews that serve as testimonials so that future customers know what to expect. “Your review can help convince another shopper to pull the trigger and buy something from them,” suggests Meaghan Thomas, a co-owner of Pinch Spice Market in Louisville, Kentucky. “It also helps the company build trust and authority with Google, which can increase their SEO rankings in search results so more people can find them online.”

Recommend the business.

When a friend or family member talks about a product, folks tend to listen. “Most people nowadays will take the recommendation of a product or service from a friend more quickly than a random person on the internet,” says Shayla Carey, the founder and owner of Luneria Cosmetics in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. Promoting products and services while personally endorsing a company can go a long way. 

Bernaudin agrees, noting that word-of-mouth is crucial for local establishments. “If you love something you’ve tried from our menu, please share your experience with your friends, family, and colleagues,” he says. “Our small business relies on referrals, and personal ones are the best!” Of course, be genuine, but your excitement can have a ripple effect and influence others to patronize your neighborhood shops.

Support seasonal in-house events.

Showing up in person is the first step in supporting brick-and-mortar establishments, so gauge your comfort and the location’s safety precautions to see if you can support an open house or holiday event. “Attend our in-person events when we have them,” suggests Sangeetha Kowsik, founder of IhsanIshan Design in New York City. “It’s been a challenge due to COVID, but slowly things are returning.”