How can you support small businesses as restrictions ease

CERES Fair Food

CERES Fair Food deliveries

Since the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic reached Australia, our small businesses have carried a large burden. Now as Victorian businesses start to reopen, there are many ways we can support them on the road to recovery.

So channel some love back into your local shops, venues and services by ticking off as many of the suggestions on this list as you can.

1. Keep your bookings and be flexible

We probably don’t have to tell you that cafes, restaurants, bars and clubs have been some of the hardest hit by coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions. It’s a testament to the industry that so many businesses have adapted their operations so well this year.

With many venues reopening after a long hiatus, you might find it tricky to get a booking at your favourite local café or restaurant. Demand is always going to be higher on weekends and during certain times of day, so try to be flexible and go in off-peak times.

If you can’t keep your booking, call the venue and let them know you’re cancelling – there might be someone on a waitlist ready to take your spot. But where possible, try to keep your booking.

And remember, even if they don’t have the space to serve you on premises, many places are still offering takeaway. Which leads us to our next point.

2. Keep getting takeaway

Finally! 2020 allowed us to feel good about getting food delivered.

Melburnians who might still be spending time at home to help slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) can check the live list of takeaway restaurants on Broadsheet or Still Serving for restaurants offering takeaway and delivery. Businesses can also register on Still Serving here.

Plus, there are some other options to make you feel good about delivery:

  • Lentil As Anything launched Together As Anything to support those who are struggling to access food.
  • Fair Feed is a project that creates steady work for chefs and hospitality workers whose work has been affected by coronavirus (COVID-19).

If you’re not in Melbourne, you can search for a takeaway and delivery Facebook groups in your area for the latest information, such as this one for the Surf Coast or this one for the Mornington Peninsula

3. Splurge a little more and make meals a special occasion

If you’re opting for takeaway it’s no longer limited to the same few options many of us grew up with, so there’s no reason not to make dinner at home as special as it is in restaurants:

  • Thanks to the innovation of local businesses, you can now have a fine dining experience from some of Melbourne’s best restaurants delivered to your door.
  • If you live further afield than the inner suburbs of Melbourne, some places are doing meal kits or partly cooked meals so you can finish them at home.
  • During lockdown, many pubs and bars also modified their takeaway liquor offerings to sell freshly tapped beer and grab-and-go cocktails for an upscale Netflix-and-chill.
  • The key to a Victorian’s heart doesn’t stop at dinner – rather, the next morning at brunch. St Ali’s Community Breakfast Box has you covered for cafe-style eggs, bacon and coffee at home, delivered state-wide.
  • Or for your next park gathering, buy a picnic hamper or encourage your group to order to-go from somewhere local.

Tipping is also a great way to show your appreciation if you’re able to.

Dress up or down and make an event of it. Go on. Treat yourself.

4. Get your groceries from local produce stores

While you’re at it, increase buying from your local grocer, deli, bakery, butcher or fishmonger where you can.

Here are some businesses that offer grocery delivery in Melbourne:

Or if you’d prefer everything delivered in one go, Melbourne’s own YourGrocer can pick everything up from your local markets and independent stores and deliver them straight to your door. Buy local, and buy sustainable produce.

5. Shop (local) till you drop

Thanks to online shopping and click and collect options, some retail stores were able to continue operating through lockdown – though heavily restricted. But with the loss of foot traffic, their businesses have been impacted.

As the weather warms up and we’re allowed to go out more often, update your wardrobe by shopping online with these Melbourne boutiques or from these trailblazing Indigenous brands.

If you’re looking for a welcome distraction, escape with a good book from one of these Melbourne bookshops are delivering to locals.

And if you want to add some beauty to your home, check these out:

  • Buy some artwork at Cream Town from people whose incomes have been affected by coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • Melbourne institution The Rose St Artists’ Market is open once again, and also now has an online shop.
  • Makers’ Mrkt sells all sorts of unique creations by local artists.
  • The creative marketplace Etsy Australia is always filled with local and handmade goods.

Here are some other ways you can help local stores get back to business and stay there:

  • Have an idea of what you need before you go.
  • If you need to browse, try to shop off-peak to reduce the burden on store capacity limits.
  • Keep shopping online and click and collect where possible.
  • Wear a mask, practise good hand hygiene and keep your distance from others.

6. Buy a reusable mask (and wear it with pride)

Face masks – it’s not a trend we asked for or even expected, but it’s the trend we’ve learned to embrace.

Now that face masks are mandatory when leaving the home, unless a medical condition prohibits you from wearing one, why not shop local and support a small business by buying one that you can reuse?

The Urban List and TimeOut have both compiled lists of where to buy face masks from independent sellers in Melbourne. Show your personality even if you can’t show your face.

If you want to feel extra good, SisterWorks, Second Stitch and the Social Studio are three local social enterprises who have added face masks to their range. Your money will help these not-for-profits empower refugees, migrants and asylum seekers.

7. Buy a voucher or gift card

Vouchers and gift cards are a great way to offer immediate support to small businesses even if you can’t get there right away. This is especially helpful for beauty and wellness services and places that rely on tourism or large gatherings like hotels and live music venues, like those in regional Victoria.

Live local is a way for you to buy vouchers from different businesses in one place. If you’re a business that isn’t set up to offer vouchers yet, you can register with Live local here.

Consider buying a voucher or gift card for somewhere in regional Victoria to spend later. Many regional towns that count on tourism have been particularly affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions.

8. Offer your support

Not everyone can go on an online shopping rampage right now or spend big at the pub. If you need to hold back in the months ahead, there are still ways you can help without spending your cash:

  • Leave positive reviews for local businesses on social media or Google.
  • Share and post your support for your local on social media.
  • Tell your friends and family about local businesses that need support.
  • If you have a blog, write about your favourite local spots.
  • Offer positive feedback to businesses working hard.

A good online review and word of mouth can go a long way to brighten someone’s day.

Remember that we’re in this together

As you start to get back out there, remember these businesses are under a huge amount of pressure and have had to change the way they operate several times this year. Many have new staff and might be a little rusty while they adapt to a COVIDSafe working environment.

Try to be forgiving if things aren’t quite right or take a bit longer to arrive. Or if a product doesn’t meet expectations, consider an exchange voucher that you can redeem later.

Finally, the easiest thing that you can do to help is to follow the COVIDSafe guidelines and play your part so businesses can remain open until we reach COVID Normal.

Wear a mask, practise hand hygiene, keep your distance from others, stay home if you have symptoms, and above all, get tested if you have symptoms and stay safe.

Business Victoria

Business Victoria

Business Victoria