11 Ways to Help Your Local Shops Survive the 2020 Holiday Season

It goes without saying that this year has been a rough one for pretty much everybody on the planet. Pandemics, right? Whether it is financial hardship, social issues, relationship strain, overwhelm, or just life – it has been a lot to handle. And though everyone is dealing with their own issues, I believe that those who have invested their lives into owning small businesses are a group who have it particularly difficult in 2020.
As we head into the holiday shopping season, it is very realistically a make-or-break time for many small businesses throughout our country. From increased cost of business (prices have gone up on many things such as bags, postage, boxes, paper towels, electronic card processing, etc), to downsizing staff, to a decrease in casual shopping, to eliminating large in-person sale events; much of what would be business as normal has now changed. And we collectively need your help keeping your favorite local shops alive to see 2021.

Here are 11 ways for you to help your local shops survive the 2020 holiday shopping season:

  1. Shop EARLY! Avoid crowds by not waiting until the last minute. The sooner, the better. Most major retailers have pushed their holiday season into October (notice all those Black Friday-like sales that happened mid-month?), but it is even more important to support small shops in this way since they tend to have less room and therefore will have trouble safely spacing customers out. (We here at Dirty South Pottery will be resetting our store and releasing our gift sets earlier than usual this year – by November 5th - 6th at the latest!)
  1. Research before shopping with them to know what their current hours and policies are. Just because you shopped with them last year on a Sunday doesn’t mean they’ll have the same hours now. Do a quick Google and/or Facebook search to see how the business is operating in the current climate. Do they require appointments? Are they online only? Are they only open weekends now? Research and know ahead.
  1. Look up their products on their online shop, if possible. You’ll be able to shop smarter & quicker when in-store. Not every small business has an in-depth website, but if they do you can use it wisely. Check to see if you can find their products and pricing online before heading to the store – or just make your purchase online! If they don’t have a website, most places will post products on their Facebook or Instagram pages.

  2. Shop Small Saturday(s) – Instead of shopping at big stores on the weekend that will more than likely be over crowded, go to your local shops to spend your money. You can buy from large retailers online any day of the week (usually for free or low-cost shipping) - however, avoiding shipping is best when shopping with small businesses. The price of boxes, filler, bubble-wrap, shipping, and other items adds up as a big expense for small shops.

  3. Utilize buying online with in-store or curbside pickup options. Many local places have leveled-up their online presence this year, so take advantage of it! Not only is it more convenient for both you and them, but they are probably now paying more for their website. Make sure it’s worth their money! Also, if you are close to the shop, don’t opt for shipping – small businesses may be compelled to offer free shipping to compete with large competitors, but I can guarantee you that it isn’t free for them. If you need it shipped, that is fine. But if you are in good health and within 30-40 minutes of the store, go for pickup when possible.

  4.  Be aware of store capacity limits. A lot of small shops have limited space, which means social distancing will be challenging. If a store looks too crowded or has a posted capacity limit, please (PLEASE) be respectful and wait to enter the store. How does this help a business survive? It keeps their staff healthy and contributes to lower COVID numbers. Lower case totals means we don't have to worry about non-essential businesses being closed during the shopping season. 

  5. Share their posts to let your friends know about your favorite local spots! This has always been important, but now more than ever small businesses need you. Word of mouth is the #1 best form of marketing, and you can give it to your favorite shops FOR FREE. Do it!

  6. Bring your own hand sanitizer/PPE when possible. A lot of places have some sanitizer provided, but with the increase of foot traffic in the door in the holiday season things might get expensive. If possible, bring your own sanitizer and your own mask so that the shops don’t have to spend their limited funds on supplying everyone with PPE.

  7. Purchase more of your gifts with local shops than you normally do. Usually buy 10% of your holiday gifts locally? Make it 20% this year. Are you more around 50%? Great! Make it 70% this year. Most of us can’t resist a good sale from the large corporations, or their child wants a specific toy from a chain store. But aside from those instances, I challenge you to mindfully spend more of your shopping money with small & local places this year than you ever have during the holidays. That doesn’t mean you have to spend more money in total, just change where you are swiping your debit card.

  8. Go with their guidelines – they are trying their best to keep their staff (and you) safe. Whether you agree with their precautions or not, this is their space. Their second home. Their pride and joy. Their lifeline. If you respect a store enough to spend your money with them, respect them enough to follow their chosen guidelines.

  9. Be patient – it has been a tough year. We are all trying our best to survive this storm. The lines may move slower, the stores might take longer to look around in, the guidelines might feel weird and frustrating to follow. Absolutely none of us want to be in the middle of a pandemic while also trying to shop for our loved ones – but that is the hand we have been dealt this year. Being rude to a shopkeeper might be to last straw that makes up their minds to close. Let’s all try to be as grateful & loving as possible, even to the strangers who frustrate us at stores.

That’s it! Eleven simple and ways for you to help keep your local shops in-business this holiday season. And while some of these seem to be just ways to help them enforce social distancing guidelines, keep in mind that is an important part of supporting businesses this year. If we reach a critical level of cases, certain lockdowns or mandates may be put back into place – including the closing of non-essential businesses. Keep us all open by doing your part to stop the spread.
If you’re wanting to shop with us at Dirty South Pottery this holiday, check out ALL of our products on our online shop and please read our current guidelines for our physical shop in Winchester.
Thank you, and please share this with your friends! Let’s make sure that all our favorite stores are there for us to enjoy during the 2021 holiday shopping season.
11 Ways to Help Your Local Shop Survive the 2020 Holiday Season
Ashley Norman

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