The coronavirus pandemic has created an existential crisis for America’s small, locally owned businesses, which are the backbone of the nation’s economy. They create the bulk of the nation’s jobs, cultivate new innovation, and shape our communities’ personalities. Unlike most national retail chains, they adapt their products and services to meet their communities’ needs. And a much higher percentage of the dollars spent in locally owned businesses versus chain retailers remain in the community, generating economic activity that supports schools, parks, first responders, and other vital community services.

Most small businesses don’t have the credit and capital to weather the coronavirus pandemic. And the average small business has only enough cash in reserve to remain open for 27 days. For restaurants, it’s only 16 days; for retail shops, only 19. Being closed for weeks or months because of the COVID-19 pandemic will be devastating for hundreds of thousands of small businesses. Governments, foundations, and nonprofits everywhere are scrambling to help small businesses stay afloat during this crisis, but everyone can help. If we plan to support our independents now, they will thrive and recover more quickly once they are able to reopen. And, once we commit to making these choices part of our daily lives, new habits and relationships can be formed which benefit the entire community. Here are some things you can do:

Choose Local First. With every purchase you are making right now, no matter how small, choose a local, independent business first. Wal-Mart will survive. Target will survive. Olive Garden and Chili’s will survive. But our local businesses cannot do it without you!

Local Businesses Are Providing Alternative Shopping. In fact, many small businesses are operating online and by phone now. Check small business websites and social media for their current shopping methods available Many retailers are also offering curbside service. You can find products you want on their website or social media and call your order in and they will put it together and bring it out to your car. CB Boutique got creative and they offer all of the above plus you can Face Time shop where they will walk around the store with you on Face Time and be your personal shopper!

Buy Gift Cards. You can use them once the business reopens. In the meantime, you’re providing the business with income it desperately needs to stay afloat. Rustic Leopard had made their gift card system easy to where you can purchase your gift card right from their website and specify where you want the card to go. So you can buy a gift card for mom or a graduating senior and it will be delivered right to their email!

Buy Something Extra. While you’re buying a gift card, maybe get one as a birthday gift for a friend as well.

Be Flexible. Many small businesses are trying out new ways to meet their customers’ needs and keep themselves solvent. Whether it’s an online class offered by your favorite yoga studio or phone video concierge shopping in your favorite boutique, give them a try.

Order Carry-Out. Restaurants throughout Amarillo have moved quickly to make it easier for customers to order carry-out food and either pick it up curbside or have it delivered. www.visitamarillo.com/restaurants is a good source for what our area restaurants have available to serve you.

Have it Delivered. Many restaurants and retailers are offering delivery right now. Or you can use Karma Services. Karma is the only locally owned delivery company in Amarillo and they will deliver whatever you need from restaurant food, groceries, items from Pak-A-Sak. Order from their website: karmaservices.net or you can download their app or call them at 806-690-3343.

Leave a Review. This is a great time to leave positive reviews of your favorite local businesses on Yelp, Google or Facebook. Not only can it help drive traffic to these businesses, but the business owners and workers would probably appreciate the emotional support right now.

Like and Share Their Social Media Posts. Help keep movement going on their social media platforms which will help them gain more followers and grow their audience.

Tip Better Than You Usually Do. If you are patronizing a service-sector business whose workers rely on tips, leave a bigger tip than usual.

Now, more than ever, it is crucial that we support our communities in whatever ways we can—whether that’s by ordering items online, or sharing photos of the messages small businesses in your area have put up for everyone to see. Uplifting your community doesn’t have to require money or a large amount of time; just taking a moment to explore how the businesses near you have been adapting to this crisis (primarily via their websites or other social media platforms) can be hugely informative, and feeling informed and connected to your community can give you a positive boost, too.

What can WE all do? Easy. Support local. With everything you buy. No matter how small. You support a local business, you support our community. Shop small, shop independent and protect our small business neighbors who give so much back to us and our families.