Stay home… shop small

As many American businesses shut down or scale back their operations to prevent spreading the coronavirus, you may be wondering what you can do to help.

Even during a pandemic, there are ways to support the many small businesses in the community that might be struggling. Use delivery services

Many businesses right now are offering curbside or even home delivery options. This has been a growing trend in recent years because of online shopping, but the pandemic has made these options seem less like a luxury and more like a community service. Check with your favorite local restaurants and shops to see what they are offering and take advantage of all Blount County has to offer. Buy gift cards

Even if a business temporarily shuts its doors, you might still be able to help by buying gift cards for future spending. See which of your favorite local businesses offer gift cards or gift certificates.

If you have the means, buy a gift card now that you can enjoy later. You can either use it yourself or give it as a gift. Local businesses could use the support. Be polite

Where businesses are open, be polite and thankful to the people working there. Workers are under stress to restock shelves and keep customers calm amid an unusual uptick in demand for groceries, medical supplies, and other essentials. If the shelves are empty, that’s the fault of customers doing panic buying, not the workers. Be part of the solution by not purchasing more than you need. Offer to help

Look for ways to help your friends and neighbors who are temporarily out of work. That applies to the basics, like making sure they have food and supplies. And when you can, help them find ways to bridge the income gap until their jobs come back.

For people who are working extra hours during the pandemic — especially health care workers — look for ways to ease their burden. Spend big later

Make it a point to support local businesses in a big way as soon as restrictions ease.

Businesses still have bills, rent, loans, and payroll expenses throughout this shutdown. Their resources will be stretched thin. You can help them survive and thrive for the long term by being ready and willing to do business with them again as soon as they reopen.

With your help, local businesses will be back up and running — and serving as the backbone of your community — as soon as possible.