Couch economy

Ways to support local businesses and artists while practicing social distance

By Lyndsie Kiebert
Reader Staff

It’s never so apparent how much the local economy relies on people’s social nature until it becomes necessary to remain isolated. Restaurants, small shops, artists and service workers are going to be hit hardest by this period of so-called “social distancing,” so it is important to be deliberate in supporting them in times like these.

To those who are fortunate enough to receive a paycheck in the age of the novel coronavirus — here’s how to make a difference for everyone else.

Avoiding dining out? Buy gift certificates

Though many restaurants will offer curbside pickup options during this time, a large portion of the population — especially those with a high risk of experiencing a severe case of COVID-19 — might prefer to stick to home-cooked meals for the next few weeks. Rather than simply looking forward to that first meal out on the town after self-quarantining and eating pasta for days on end, make it a sure thing by purchasing a gift certificate right now — something that most places will transact over the phone. The funds will help keep the establishment afloat during this downtime, and it means all that’s left to pay later is a generous tip for the hardworking server.

The specials board at Spud’s in Sandpoint. Photo by Ben Olson.

Show canceled? Buy merch

Performers across the world are canceling tours in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. Many musicians, comedians and theater troupes rely on ticket sales as their main source of income, and now find themselves giving refunds for tickets already purchased. Whether fans have already purchased those tickets or intended to in coming weeks, they can support artists in a different way: merchandise. Many bands have online stores where they sell T-shirts, hats, stickers and more, which can be shipped straight to people’s doorsteps. 

In lieu of seeing a show, support artists in the meantime by repping their names. Rather than that, consider donating to a Kickstarter or Patreon account an artist may have set up for a particular album or project.

Want to shop small from home? Inquire about shipping or pick-up options

When it comes to social distancing, online shopping seems like the go-to method for scratching the shopping itch or replenishing the cabinets. However, and especially in these trying times, small businesses need a boost. Many small businesses will offer shipping specials during this time, and allow the purchase of gift cards over the phone. In the case of groceries, those looking to shop small should inquire with their nearest family owned grocery store about pick-up and delivery options. Davis Grocery & Mercantile in Hope is currently offering custom grocery ordering and pick-up for those who want to minimize their time in public places. Call a favorite local establishment to find out if these options are available.

Had to postpone that haircut? Pay anyway

It makes sense in the current climate that some people may choose to cancel appointments that involve close contact with others. A haircut can certainly wait until this period of social distancing is over. The same goes for manicures, massages, music lessons and the like. However, people working in those industries rely on individual appointments for financial stability, and a slew of cancelations all at once is devastating. When canceling, consider paying for that service in advance and make the appointment once things return to business as usual.

Have other ideas for helping out small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic? Send them to [email protected].

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