From the bushfire crisis to the coronavirus pandemic, Aussie small businesses have had a rough start to the year. Now as more and more people stay indoors, it’s super important to be mindful of what businesses we support.

Many small business owners will be left without an income if we stop patronising them. A shop owner can’t simply work from home. Thankfully, there are ways to get around the barriers of social distancing and still support local businesses. Now’s the time to go to your specialty store or corner shop – as a  bonus, they might have toilet paper/pasta/sanitiser!

The government is currently working to support small businesses by keeping up cashflow. For the rest of us, consider this your guide on how to help local businesses during this difficult time.

Buy gift cards

Gift cards are a great way to put cash straight into the hands of your favourite local business. From restaurants to florists, many businesses simply won’t get many customers now that everyone’s staying at home. While you might be looking forward to going back later, they need the money now.

More often than not, you can receive gift cards via email. If you’re looking for a gift for a friend during this time, it’s also a good way of avoiding large crowds while shopping for a present.

Just remember to check the terms of the gift card. While most small businesses receive the cash when you purchase the voucher, some businesses only receive the money when you actually redeem the card, which is no help if you’re not leaving the house for a few weeks.

Honour your current commitments

Perhaps you take guitar lessons, see a personal trainer or learn a second language. If that’s the case, suddenly ending these commitments puts an extremely abrupt end to the income of your instructor. Even in these times of social isolation and lockdowns, there are ways to keep doing what you’re doing.

Consider moving to an open, sparsely populated environment for physical activities. House calls may be possible for some activities if neither you or your instructor are at risk of catching the coronavirus. As a final alternative, online classes make it possible to keep up all sorts of lessons and commitments without having to meet in person.

Just talk with your instructor and find something that works for you both.

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Protecting public health is obviously our number one priority in society, but the last few months has started to have a substantial ripple effect in the economy. First the fires, then this. This is probably one of the most critical times to support Australian business’ and particularly to support our small business community. In times like this, small businesses tend to be the first to lose out. Events have been cancelled, people will be going out less, less disposable income etc — this all have huge ramifications. Let’s contine to support our favourite businesses the best we can, while being safe and in our means. Here’s 8 ideas! I’d love to hear from you — what are some other ways & other industries?! #SupportLocal

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Buy local produce

The shelves are bare in many supermarkets, but that’s not because of a shortage of produce. On the same note, food is still good to eat! The coronavirus isn’t being spread through fresh produce so there’s no reason to avoid it.

Even though you may have already stocked up on baked beans, continuing to buy fruit and veg means that farmers and greengrocers can still make a living while we’re all eating rations.

If you can’t visit in person, get it delivered and tip your delivery driver

Food delivery is never more than a phone call away, and its’s not just your local pizza restaurant or Chinese takeaway – although these are probably great too! So there’s no excuse for not supporting your favourite local cafe or restaurant. Even though they might look empty now, these establishments are still serving up great food and we’re still able to eat it.

Because festivals and other events have been called off, caterers are also doing it tough. Thankfully, many are offering home delivery services. Just pop their name into Facebook or Instagram and you’ll probably find that they’re still open for business, just in a slightly different capacity. While they might not all offer individual portions, it’s still worthwhile to consider ordering in a group meal to keep these small businesses afloat.

Also think of your delivery drivers during this time. While tipping may not be standard practice in Australia, a little bit extra during times like this can go a long way for people working in industries that are being affected by the pandemic.

Try Aussie online stores

Many have turned to online shopping while self-isolating. It’s something most people were doing anyway, so it’s one of the easiest ways to transition into staying at home.

However, being mindful of where you shop can do a great deal of good. Instead of buying clothes or electronics from overseas or even interstate, look to see if there are any online stores based in your own area. By doing this you’re contributing to local businesses much as if you were walking into a physical store.

These shops still have rent to cover and employees to pay, meaning they likely need the cash more than a nondescript warehouse in whoop-whoop which only sells online.

Purchase artists’ work and merch

Now that public gatherings of over 500 people have been banned, heaps of gigs have been called off. Even smaller ones are being cancelled as people take precautions to stay at home. But that doesn’t mean performers can’t get paid.

Merch is a major source of income for many performers, and it’s more vital now than ever before. Buying music, too, instead of streaming is another great way to put money in the pockets of artists. Markets are also a no-go, but sites like Etsy and Bandcamp allow independent creatives to continue to sell their work.