COVID 19 has brought about many challenges that have forced us to restructure our daily lives. As we have bared the burden of working, learning, and socializing from home, we have also switched from shopping locally to ordering our products from large corporations like Amazon. Though online ordering has the perks of being quick, inexpensive, and reliable, it comes at a cost.
Even though many brick-and-mortar stores have opened, traffic and thus sales have significantly decreased. This leaves many small businesses with no choice but to close their doors. According to the New York Times, around one-third of New York small businesses will not make it through the duration of the pandemic. Supporting local businesses has never been more important than right now.
What can we do to help? Here are some questions you should ask yourself when shopping:
Can I Remove the Middle Man?
While UberEats is handy for ordering delivery, try to avoid third-party services. Prioritize paying businesses directly. Pick up if you can, or order delivery from restaurants that offer it as a service.
Can I Find Alternatives?
If you are tempted to buy from a large online retailer, consider if there are alternatives. If you are comfortable shopping in person, call local stores and see if they may have what you’re looking for. Ask if they do curbside pick-up if you would prefer not to go inside. You can visit Help Support NYC Small Businesses to get specific recommendations for local shopping in your area.
The app Olio can also help you trade with people near you.
Is This Ethical?
Sometimes we have to shop online. Before you shop from a large retailer, do a quick search and see if they have been in the news lately. Look at their website to determine what their COVID-19 standards are. Ethical Consumer is a great online resource for determining how ethical businesses are. The website provides numerical ratings based on several different dimensions.
Another way to shop sustainably this holiday season is by supporting support htE’s participants!
Visit our Etsy shop to browse our unique handmade designs made by survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking participating in our creative expression programs. 100% of net profits from the sales will go directly to the survivor! In addition, check out some amazing skin cares products and face masks by Suds N Roses, a company also started by one of our participants!
How Else Can I Help?
A great way to support local businesses is by purchasing gift cards. These put money directly into the pockets of the owners even when you may not be in the market for something they sell. You can always use them at a later time.
What If I’m Maxed Out?
No money to spend? You can help advertise your favorite businesses for free. Making a post on social media (tag them!) can help attract more customers to their stores. Make it even better by posting pictures and specific feedback about the products and why the store is great!
Now go forth and shop, sustainably :)