June 18, 2021

9 Ways to Support Small Businesses


There are always times when you need delivery. But on other days, think twice about how you order takeout. Rather than using a delivery app, ask for curbside pickup: Sites like Grubhub and Uber Eats charge restaurants fees that can reduce already thin margins. Instacart and Shipt, two companies that offer shopping and delivery, also charge the merchants who use the sites.

And while it is easy to purchase through a so-called digital shop on sites like Facebook and Instagram, shopping through third-party apps typically reduces the net profit for the merchant. (Facebook, which owns Instagram, has waived selling fees through the end of the year but will re-evaluate the practice in January, a Facebook spokeswoman said in an email.)

Help bolster a business’s social media presence by “liking” hardware stores, dry cleaners and other independent shops on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Write positive reviews, post photos generously of purchases, and don’t forget to tag the businesses. And consider slightly broader efforts, like community email lists and social media groups like Nextdoor.

Retailers are savvy when it comes to selling, but many don’t fully understand that social media plays a crucial role, Ms. Breunig said. Through her Facebook group, she started an “adopt a shop” effort, in which residents select a store and commit to shopping there once a week (with no spending minimum) and posting about their experiences on Facebook. Within five days, Ms. Breunig said, 24 Evanston stores were “adopted.”

You can double the effect of philanthropic efforts by involving small businesses whenever possible. Order meals for essential workers from independent restaurants. Shop local when buying for clothing drives. And even if it’s a bit more expensive, purchase from local markets for food drives.

Suzanne Fiske, the director of on-air development for WHYY, the public radio and television stations in Philadelphia, had yet another idea. “Our listeners care about the mom-and-pop shop next door that is having trouble during the pandemic,” she said, so she asked donors on social media platforms to name their favorite local business when they contributed to be read aloud. The station awarded the two with the most votes — Horsham Square Pharmacy in Horsham, Pa., and MYX, a Bryn Mawr, Pa., start-up that creates a custom-blend beverage dispenser — radio advertising worth $3,500. The promotion also motivated listener donations, with more than 700 contributors calling on the day of the small-business challenge, close to three times the typical number, Ms. Fiske added.



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