Local businesses are the fabric of our communities, whether it’s the corner cafe serving up Instagrammable lattes or the vintage store selling pre-loved apparel a couple of blocks away.
These familiar places, and the faces behind them, bring our neighbourhoods together, helping us feel more connected to the city we call home. But not only that, local businesses account for almost 98% of all Canadian businesses.
The country-wide lockdown earlier this year forced many to close their storefronts temporarily and quickly adapt their operations to keep serving their communities. In the past few months alone, Google searches for “how to help small businesses” and “near me” increased dramatically.
Small Business Week is taking place in Canada from October 18 to 24, and there has never been a more important time to support, celebrate, and lift up our local businesses. This doesn’t have to cost you a fortune; we’ve rounded up five ideas to help.
Leave a Google review
A 2019 survey by BrightLocal revealed that 91% of consumers say positive reviews make them more likely to use a business. (Disclosure: we’re partial to checking the reviews of a restaurant pre-reservation.) Having positive reviews on Google helps small businesses stand out and boosts trust and credibility at a time when we’re shopping and booking online more than ever.
Leaving a Google review is easy. It can be wordy, visual, or just a quick star rating. But this little effort is worth so much more to small business owners.
Back in March, we were eager to try new recipes on the regular, with banana bread becoming almost a weekly thing. These days, we find a balance works best (i.e. having a treat day once — or twice — per week to order takeout). Canada’s restaurant industry is feeling the strain of the pandemic, and there are plenty of eateries to support from a distance in your city. Do a quick Google search to discover what’s near you and place an order for takeout. If you’re happy with the result, you know what to do next.
Book a virtual class
While spending more time at home, we have the freedom to safely take our favourite classes — and simultaneously support local businesses. This could involve anything from a personal training session to calming yoga and meditation to a virtual cooking class. These bookings can easily be made online, right from your sofa. Once you’ve got a timeslot confirmed for your guitar lesson, virtual wine tasting, or anything in between, add it to your calendar to stay organized.
Donate or buy a gift card
There’s no one set way to support small businesses in your area — every little bit helps. If you would prefer to donate to a local company or organization, it’s simple to do this online. Buying a gift card for your top-rated taco joint or flower store (either for yourself or a loved one) is another powerful way to give back. Plus, you can donate or buy gift cards directly from the Business Profile of many Canadian businesses or search “support small business” on Google Maps.
Start holiday shopping locally
It’s been a tough year for all Canadians adjusting to the current landscape. But the holidays bring a season of joy, allowing us to focus on making the best memories that we can. Doing your holiday shopping with local businesses lets you choose special gifts that make a big impact. Order houseplants for your friends to brighten their home offices, scented candles for your siblings, and perhaps a DIY pizza kit from a local restaurant for the pie enthusiast you know. (Don’t forget to choose something for yourself, too!)
This list scratches the surface of ways that we can support Canada’s local businesses through this unprecedented period. If you’re unsure of what to do next, leaving a Google review for your go-to neighbourhood spot is the perfect starting point.
To learn more about how to give and get help as a consumer or business owner, check out smallbusiness.withgoogle.com.