How has COVID-19 affected you? Two weeks ago most of us would have shrugged our shoulders in response. By now, however, you’ve probably waited in a mile-long grocery store line, researched how to homeschool your children, and locked down your high risk family members indefinitely. That being said, I think we can all agree that we knew this was the real deal when they started talking about Fiesta.
Why Shopping Local is More Important Than Ever
San Antonians collectively mourned when Fiesta celebrations were postponed. Over the four years that I’ve lived here, I have grown to love the Fiesta season and its traditions. So much that I’ve already purchased Fiesta-wear for my kids this year. When I caught a glimpse of my daughter’s dress hanging in her closet today, my heart sank.
My sadness, however, pales in comparison to the worry and stress many small business owners are experiencing right now. Can you imagine the preparation that’s already taken place for Fiesta vendors? From tacos to flower crowns–things have been planned, purchased, and put together. Now instead of getting ready for thousands of parade and carnival-goers, these local entrepreneurs are wondering what to do with their surplus product and unmet financial goals.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there. Think about the server in a local restaurant that depends on extra tips coming from the Fiesta crowds. The owner of a local boutique who has shelves overflowing with Fiesta apparel and decor. The DJs, face painters, photographers–all looking at an empty calendar for the next month.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of small businesses affected by the drastic shift in our every day lives. Everyone has been affected. Because when we say “local businesses” what we are really saying is “local families.” Your neighbors and friends who, I’m willing to bet, have already sacrificed much for their small business dreams to thrive. Now not only their dreams but also their livelihoods are at stake.
What Can You Do?
If you’ve been looking for a way to help your community during this time, supporting small businesses is it. Buy local whenever and however you can. Many shops are adapting to the social distancing situation. For example, stores like Feliz Modern are offering curbside delivery when you order from their website. No. 9 Florals-Chocolates-Gifts is continuing delivery even though their retail storefront is closed. Local farmers such as The Betsy Blue Farm have produce boxes you can purchase and pick up on a bi-weekly basis. Before opening your Amazon app when needs arise, try thinking of a local business that could fit the bill. No disrespect to Amazon (who I’m sure would understand because they too were once a small business).
Alternatively, you can buy gift certificates. Think ahead to holidays and family gatherings later this year–whatever local businesses you would use then, consider buying a gift certificate from them now. Remember that they will be getting very little foot traffic while we practice social distancing and gift certificate purchases can really help bridge the gap. Understandably, this may not be for everyone because of life, budgets, etc. If you have the means, however, please consider the gift certificate option.
Now, what should be done if you’ve already paid for goods or services that are no longer needed due to quarantines and social distancing? If possible, allow some time before asking for a refund. That local baker was most likely counting on the business coming from your daughter’s birthday cake, and as a result, already purchased the ingredients and tools to prepare it. If the birthday party is a no-go, perhaps your cake funds can be re-routed for your future use. No events on the horizon requiring cake? Personally I’m not about that life, but no worries. The bottom line here is to be patient and flexible until a reasonable solution is found. Let the dust settle, so to speak. All of the panic-canceling takes its toll on small business owners who have invested upfront in these events.
On that note, let’s all be nice humans. Everyone is facing uncertainty and hardship. When the chips don’t fall in our favor, we should take a deep breath. Walk away if we need to. Before our frustration causes us to email, tweet, text, post, or otherwise say something that we may regret. We can choose kindness over rudeness and empathy over judgement. Let’s take a break from social media and the news. Go outside for a breath of fresh air. Put on our favorite song and have a dance party. Whatever is needed to stay centered and stay kind.
Viva Small Businesses!
When Fiesta rolls around in November, this will all be a memory. Perhaps not one of our favorites, but nonetheless one that taught us important lessons. I think that this will be one of them. Let’s support our friends running small businesses in San Antonio. Because they depend on us, and the future of our city depends on them.
If you know a local business offering services that will help during COVID-19, please leave a comment below!