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12 simple ways you can support Barrie businesses during this novel coronavirus outbreak (

Monday, March 30, 2020

Taking small actions can go a long way in keeping our community strong.

These are trying times. They are hard on Barrie families. They are hard on Barrie businesses. They are especially hard on the staff and owners of the small businesses in our community. But, there are things we can all do to help. Let's come together during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Many small businesses are seeking ways to stay afloat during the coronavirus outbreak. Many local businesses are facing closures and significant restrictions and need a life-line to better times. We hear from local businesses that as many as 1/3 might not survive a month or two if their cash-flow decreases by half - and we know some have seen all income disappear overnight.

During this unprecedented time we ask you to take a moment to imagine Barrie without local stores, art galleries, cafes, and restaurants. We ask you to imagine your life without the different local service providers you rely on. We like our community and all the unique options it offers. The diversity of small business adds personality and flavour to our lives.

We understand that the response to the Covid-19 pandemic has left each of us in different personal and financial positions. Many individuals in Barrie have unfortunately been hit very hard. Others in our community less so. In the 12 ideas below, we hope you find something not only inspiring but also doable for you.

Let's do our part to help small businesses navigate through uncertain waters. Here is how you can help:

1. Shop Local

Buy from Barrie businesses both online and off.

Right now the local businesses in your community are worried about how to make rent and payroll. And right now you still need things during the Covid-19 pandemic. So, please do what you can to get those things from Barrie businesses. There has not been a more important time to shop local.

If you’re thinking of stocking up on staples, or also the things to make self-isolation more bearable, please try to purchase those things from Barrie retailers.

We're finding more and more local businesses are moving their efforts online. But this does not mean that all Barrie businesses have setup a full fledged e-commerce website. Even if many local businesses do not yet sell directly via their websites, more and more are happy to take orders through their sites, via email, though social media and over the phone.

We see this happening in many ways, from ordering food from restaurants and having it delivered, to pre-ordering products for pick up or even purchasing virtual products such as gift cards and video instruction. So, although not all businesses in our community offer the option of online shopping, more and more are offering ways to continue do business with them while practicing social distancing.

2. Purchase Gift Cards Now

Buy gift certificates from Barrie merchants to use later.

Covid 19 hasn't stopped birthdays, anniversaries, or most of the other special days that mark our calendars each year. So, we're suggesting that buying gift cards now from Barrie small businesses make excellent gifts to give for future use.

When you purchase a gift certificate from a Barrie business, it will give that local business immediate cash flow. This may be their lifeblood while their doors are shut or while their business has severely slowed down. It's this cash flow that is vital to them weathering this storm and it's this cash flow they use to support their staff. Another fantastic use of a gift card is to give them to friends and family who you know are facing tough times at the moment. This allows you to not only support your larger community but also support those in need during this difficult time.

So, get gift cards from Barrie restaurants, service providers, and independent retailers and remind friends and family how much you care about them and the community.

And don't forget yourself. We know you're dreaming of your return to 'regular life' so treat yourself now by giving your future self a gift to spend at your local cafe, barbershop, climbing gym, tattoo parlor, etc., etc. If you want to help ensure that the small businesses you frequent are around after this novel coronavirus, there is no better way to support them and their staff than by purchasing a gift certificate now.

Even if the business appears to be temporality closed, we're sure that if you reach out asking to purchase a gift certificate they'd be more than happy to find a safe way to make that happen.

3. Continue Supporting Your Regular Service Providers

Keep paying for local services for as long as you can afford to.

Many of us truly rely on a certain set of service providers to take the load off week in and week out. You know who they are. Think of the yard maintenance team that keep your property looking great. Think of the mechanic who keeps your car on the road year in and year out. Think of the dog walker who keeps your best friend wagging when you couldn't be there. Think of the tutor or instructor who your child looks up to. Think of the house cleaner who helps keep your house feeling like your home. Think about anyone who has depended on regular income from clients like you.

If you can, try to keep paying these Barrie businesses who have helped you along the way. There is obviously going to be some disruption to these services with social distancing and sheltering at home, but try to continue to support these local service providers as if there hasn't been a disruption. They really need your help now.

4. Write Reviews

Share your positive thoughts about businesses in Barrie.

If you are financially unable to support a local business, there are plenty of other ways you can help. No matter if you are currently unable to keep paying as usual, consider leaving great reviews online for local businesses you’ve used.

Positive words about your positive experiences will go a long way right now to buoy the spirits of stressed-out business owners. Don't underestimate the the moral support you can provide to the self-employed, small businesses, and independent contractors through some thoughtful words.

Locate these Barrie businesses on the platforms you use (Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. etc.) and send or post a positive note. While you're there, why not give them a 'follow'? This way you can keep abreast of what they are up to and know how you can engage when the temporary Covid-19 restrictions have lifted. Alternatively, send them an email through their website and look to join their mailing list.

5. Reschedule Instead of Cancelling

Shift your plans in Barrie to brighter days.

Although travel to our community is out of the question right now, you may have already invested time and money planning a trip. So postpone it instead of canceling. This will give local hotels and travel operators more certainty about what the future has in store.

We're always encouraging travellers to try to stay at locally run accommodations and visit locally run venues. So to keep this encouragement going, we hope you'll consider booking plans now for the future excursions to Barrie after this coronavirus has passed.

Once the crisis is over, local businesses of all sorts will be ready receive guests again. Letting them know you're coming might be the very thing to keep them going in the meantime.

Also, the benefit of postponement, over making a cancellation, is the same to independent vendors outside of tourism as well. If you had a booking with a Barrie service provider, please consider rescheduling the booking instead of cancelling it altogether. From local contractors to local photographers, caterers or florists a postponement is infinitely better than a cancelation.

6. Make Referrals

Help Barrie businesses with some word-of-mouth.

We know that you know many businesses you've been meaning to suggest to friends and family members but haven't found the time. Now is the time. As we all try to remain connected while we social distance and self-isolate, please take a moment or two to mention that local business that went over and beyond for you. Not only will you feel good about taking the time to connect with your friends and family but you'll also feel great about spreading the word about a small business in Barrie who needs your help. Right about now, who doesn't want to do more things that makes them feel good?

7. Tip More Than Normal

Try to keep money circulating in our community

If you make the choice to go to a restaurant, cafe or bar that remains open please remember that those that serve you are on the front-lines of this pandemic. Given this, we hope you consider giving a little larger of a tip than you normally leave. With fewer patrons the wait staff will have experienced a significant drop in their earnings. Also, with quickly changing restrictions please remember that these servers may be working now but may not be able to work tomorrow.

This goes for delivery and take-out service staff as well. Consider being a little extra generous. Please keep in mind that delivery workers in Barrie are especially vulnerable to contracting coronavirus, given the nature of their jobs. If you can afford to add a little more of a tip than you normally do these delivery and take-out workers would greatly appreciate it.

Please remember that when using take-out and delivery to keep you distance and always wash your hands.

8. Before You Cancel, Pause And Ask

Ask about options before pulling the plug on services in Barrie.

We don't know how long well be asked to practice social distancing or quarantine. There are pessimistic and optimistic opinions. Days? Weeks? Months? We're not sure when we'll begin to ease back into business as usual.

Therefore, be it with your gym, or your child's music lesson, or your photography class, or the climbing wall you recently joined we ask you to pause before cancelling. You clearly felt you could afford it before, so please honestly ask yourself what has truly changed. Please ask yourself what would your life look like if your gym or your lessons are not around when things start to return to normal. Please ask yourself how long you can continue to pay before you'd truly need to cancel.

Each cancellation that hits the wide range of businesses in our community means leaving these businesses completely out of pocket. If all of their income completely ceases it may only be a few short months before rent and other expenses will force many businesses to close permanently.

If you’ve already budgeted for an expense, get in touch before you cancel. We suggest asking the small businesses what other options they can offer during this period. We are seeing more and more Barrie entrepreneurs come up with creative offerings in an attempt to bridge to better times.

We know you joined their service because you had a positive vision of how they could help you. So, if you can follow this recommendation not only will you keep some of your own plans alive, you will also help a small business in Barrie get through this temporary period.

9. Don't Ask For Refunds

Consider the idea of a donation

Do you have tickets for a play, concert, or other event cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions? Sure, you may have a right to a refund for a cancelled event. But you don’t have to use that right. Please consider assisting the venue and don't seek a refund. Instead, offer the price of your ticket as a donation. If we want to be able to go to plays and concerts after the crisis is over, it’s important that we do what we can to protect cultural institutions now.

We understand that not everyone is in the position to donate. But, if your income won’t be affected by the coronavirus pandemic, consider a donation to a Barrie business that could need it. Any sort of assistance could mean the world to someone who isn’t sure how they are going to pay their bills next month.

10. Now May Be Time To Get Those Projects Done

Use a Barrie hardware store for some home projects

I'm sure you're like us and you have a long list of around-the-house projects you just haven't gotten to. Now may be the time. Have you been meaning to put up a fence or deck? Do you have spring landscaping and maintenance to do? Maybe you have a leaky faucet or have a room to paint. Whatever it may be local hardware stores have the products and expertise to help you get your project done.

11. Purchase Local Food

Look for fresh food from Barrie growers and makers

If you are like many others you've stocked up on anything that is dried, canned or long-lasting. But, in most places you still have regular access to local grocery stores and markets. So it makes sense that you should eat fresh foods now. Enjoy fresh bread from a Barrie baker. How about fresh meat from your local butcher? Are you taking advantage of fruit and vegetables from the farmer's market? Now is the time to source your foods locally and stick to smaller and quieter shops.

12. Find Virtual Options

See if business in Barrie are moving their instruction online.

Exercise classes, yoga, creative writing, art classes, music lessons... the list goes on and on. We're seeing a flood of classes and lessons, offered by Barrie businesses, moving online. Many classes you normally attend in person can now be taken online instead. If a local business offers this option, take it! The business gets some vital income during the Covid outbreak and by participating you help fight your feelings of social isolation. It's a win win.


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