COVID-19: What (I think) small, local business owners (and you) can do to help the closed businesses stay open…

It’s been a LOOONG while since I post, but I kind of feel the need to say this, if for nothing else, hopefully, this post can give a struggling small business owners some ideas as to what they can do while their business is closed during quarantine.

Yes… as I am writing this, our nation (and the rest of the world, for that matter, is pretty much crippled by COVID-19). This pandemic has pretty much affected our healthcare system (as well as the healthcare systems in other countries), it has affected our way of life, how we live and interact and the stock market (in the past month, we have been through record lows, followed by highs and then… who knows what).

And it has also affected businesses. Businesses are currently closed during quarantine. Every business will suffer but who I feel will suffer most are the small businesses.

Make no mistake; the large, corporate businesses will also suffer but I think small, local, mom-and-pop businesses will suffer the most.

Before I go on, I just want to post some links about our nation’s unemployment here:

https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/04/02/825383525/6-6-million-file-for-unemployment-another-dismal-record

https://www.vox.com/recode/2020/4/3/21203199/state-of-employment-charts-unemployment-rate-claims-hiring-work-from-home

https://tradingeconomics.com/united-states/unemployment-rate

And this is why I think – while it’s important to support all businesses – I feel it’s especially important to support the small, local businesses.

Help Small Businesses

One of the reasons why I feel it’s especially important to help out small businesses is because, by doing so, we are, in a way, doing our part to help the record unemployment situation.

Yes, big businesses need it (especially the workers who work in the big businesses, who have 401K and stock shares that are suffering right now). Heck… all businesses need help but here’s the thing…

When the quarantine is over and businesses are allowed to open up again…

Many of the small, local businesses may NOT be around to open even after the quarantine ends!

The fact is, while these businesses are closed (or, at least having a part of their operations closed) are costing them money and for every day they are closed, they are losing money.

As for the big businesses, they are losing money, too, but because of their size, their resources and the fact that their businesses are so diversified, they have more options. They have enough cash reserves to remain closed for long periods of time! 

Consider this article about MGM (by the way… I REALLY enjoyed my stay at the MGM in Las Vegas 🙂 🙂 ).

https://www.asgam.com/index.php/2020/03/29/mgm-resorts-says-covid-19-cash-reserves-strong-following-recent-mgm-grand-mandalay-bay-sale/

I think it’s great they have enough cash reserves to last through quarantine so that, once all this is over, they can (hopefully) re-hire the employees that were laid off. That being said, I’m not the CEO of MGM so I can’t really say what they should or should not do, but I would like to see them offer workers their jobs back.

Same thing with Disney. Their parks are closed, but they have other avenues to make money (such as the Disney Channel) and are able to last through the recession. Recently, I noticed their stock went up because they beat market expectations 🙂 .

What about the small, local businesses?

Well, I would like to see them hire back their workers as well…

Assuming they are still around after all this is over.

If not, those workers may be out of the job (some, for quite a while) and, well, that’s not going to help millions that are predicted to be unemployed. They will be a part of that astronomical number… if not add to it.

Again, all businesses need help to some degree (which is why the government is spending trillions of dollars for the stimulus), but I kind of feel it’s the small, local businesses that need it the most.

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Would it apply to any kind of dinner on this day?” asked Scrooge.

To any kindly given. To a poor one most.

Why to a poor one most?” asked Scrooge.

Because it needs it most.” — “A Christmas Carol”, conversation between Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas present.

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So, this is why I kind of feel that, by supporting small businesses during these turbulent times and helping them get through this (I know… we all need help one way or another), you are, in fact, doing your part to help stave off (I think that’s the word) the unemployment numbers and so, by helping small businesses stay afloat, you can say that, if it wasn’t for you doing your part, those huge, unemployment numbers would be bigger!

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WHAT (I THINK) SMALL, LOCAL BUSINESSES CAN DO WHILE THEY ARE EITHER CLOSED OR WHILE A PART OF THEIR OPERATIONS ARE CLOSED.

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Before I go in, I think I should make this disclaimer: I have NEVER owned a small business, so I don’t know what your situation is, what you can do, cannot do, etc…. I’m writing this because… well, first off, it’s my blog, but also, I’m writing this with the hopes that maybe someone who owns a small business will find it useful.

With that being said, I actually wrote this last night at around 1am-ish, so I’ll copy and paste most of what I wrote the night before here (and maybe do some editing later, but not now, because my feet are KILLING me. I have this terrible ache on the bottom of my feet and I think I may need to see a doctor 😦 . Anyway, I digress…). The following is (mostly) a copy and paste so the formatting may look a little ‘wonky’ (it’s been awhile since I used wordpress and I am NOT a wordpress expert by any means):

NOTE: Some of these cannot be done till businesses open on April 30th (or whenever) but some, I imagine they can do RIGHT NOW.

  1. Sell ‘special’ gift certificates: They can add any amount to these gift certificates… BUT if they add $100 or more, they can get everything for, say, 5% off… and they must purchase these ‘special’ gift certificates BEFORE April 30th.

The idea is, by adding that deadline, hopefully, it prevents customers from procrastinating and depending on your business’ financial health, the LAST thing you want your customer to do is procrastinate (I think this is called ‘fear of loss‘ marketing or something like that). 

So, basically, these work like regular gift certificates but, what makes them special is, if you buy, say, a $10 “special” gift certificate (which you can only buy during quarantine) and you buy an item that normally costs $10, the person ringing you up will take, say, an additional 5% off (or whatever percent they want) so the item will cost only $7 and you have an extra $3 left over.

OR… that “special” gift certificate can double as, say, a raffle ticket for something.

  1. Setup a donation “tier” (similar to “Go Fund Me”) where they get a corresponding prize depending on how much they donate. For example:
  • $10 donation – That café/restaurant will create a special drink/beverage and name it after that person for a week (or longer). This will start AFTER the business reopens.
  • $20 donation – That café/restaurant will create a custom appetizer and name it after that person.
  • $30 donation – An entrée will be named after that person.
  • $1,000 donation – A beverage, entrée AND appetizer will be created and named after that person AS WELL as a “meal deal” (beverage, appetizer and entrée) named after that person… AND he/she will be paid a 1% “royalty” for each entrée sold for a month!
  • NOTES: The beverage/meal does not have to be named after that donor. It could be whatever name he/she wants (subject to local business approval).
  • $1000 donation – Maybe, if he/she has a recipe idea, they can submit it and if the restaurant/café can make it, they will name it after them… and give them a 1% royalty! 

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  • IMPORTANT: Just like in ‘GoFundMe’ where they offer a limited amount of perks, it may be best to offer a limited amount of this.
  • Maybe that donor can even name the “ingredients” that will go into their beverage/meal (subject to manager approval 😉).
  • BONUS!!! Every time a customer orders a “donor appreciation meal”, there will be a card with the donor’s name on it.
  • BONUS!!! Every time a donor donates and gets a beverage/meal named after them, the donor will ALSO get a personal thank-you card from each person from that establishment.

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  1. If a person donates $3 to a small, local establishment, they will get a personal, thank-you card, signed from each of the workers (and maybe a small bio of them) that they can show off. Maybe, it can be one of those music cards!
  1. For singles who are NOT creepy 😉 😉 😉… If a person donates $500, they will… when that small, local business opens up, will be able to choose a dinner companion/dinner date to accompany them (think of it as a platonic blind date). Hey… maybe a nice, side business can start from this 😉! Hey, come on… I’m doing a brain-dump here. If you don’t like it, then, I don’t know… move on.
  1. Other possible prizes: t-shirts, caps that say I donated to help local, small businesses!!!” Or, “…If it wasn’t for me, the unemployment rate would be much higher 😉 ;).” Maybe it could be hand-signed.
  1. This may NOT work for all businesses, but for many of the small businesses I go to, many of the workers are artists, writers, musicians, etc…. Moreover, many of the customers who patronize local cafés and restaurants are artists and many love art and music. So, for a donation of, say, $700.00, maybe if that person is a musician, artist or screenwriter (like ME 😊 😊 😊), he/she can have:
  • His/her SHORT FILM produced and then, it can be seen inside that café (movie night at that café). Some restrictions apply.
  • The baristas/waitresses who have acting/theatre backgrounds can do a table read. Again, restrictions apply.
  • This would be a nice collaboration between the artistic community and the small, local food-service community 😊 😊 😊!!! 
  1. Maybe a raffle where the donor can win a free meal and every donor gets a personalized, thank you card! 
  1. Maybe the governor/mayor can do something to recognize the donors who tried to keep the small businesses afloat! 
  1. Any business that donates (and makes a special donation to that Barista) will get a special thank-you from that barista AND a plaque/poster displayed on the restaurant’s wall saying something like, “…Thanks to these people, we did NOT have to close our business in this difficult time!” or something like that (I can’t really think now… it’s 1:15am and I have to work tomorrow). In addition, they will post a “Thank you” from their Facebook page! 
  2. Businesses can up with other low-cost prizes during this difficult time!
  3. I know that, between small businesses, there is some degree of competition, but, maybe for once, after all this is over, these small businesses (restaurants and cafe’s) can work together and organize – to all who has donated and helped to keep them afloat – a special party or special “thank-you” dinner (assuming it’s okay to relax on the social distancing, which may be a while before that happens, but we’ll see).

Maybe this dinner can be held after business hours or something.

Speaking of perks, maybe I should include “WordPress formatting” 😉 where, for a certain donation, they can edit and format this blog which I don’t know how to do (at least, not yet 😉 😉 ).

There are other things small businesses can do to try to stay afloat. The things I mentioned are just a few examples.

As you can see from above, I think one nice thing is that it can offer community collaboration where different local industries/communities (e.g.: the artistic community, the food industry, the… underwater basket weaving industry… hey, they’re important, too) all come together to help each other.

cropped-beautiful-angel-cover.jpg

Sorry… I just had to add the “Westside Shelter” logo of the heart with the two hands coming together to support each other. It kind of reminds me of that (if you have NO idea what I’m talking about, I’m talking about my screenplay/book, “Beautiful Angel”, currently ranked about 3,000,000 on Amazon and is in need of an update – thanks to input from my writing group).

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I DO NOT THINK BIG, CORPORATE BUSINESSES CAN DO THE ABOVE THINGS, AT LEAST, NOT AS EFFECTIVELY AS THE SMALL, LOCAL ONES.

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The reason why I feel that way is because, if you are an employee for a small business and you have an idea (or 12 of them, as indicated above 😉 😉 ), what happens is you have to pass that idea up a “chain of command”.

First, it goes to the supervisor…

Then the manager, then the district manager…

Then the regional manager…

Then the vice-president…

Then the CEO…

Then they have a meeting to discuss it…

Then they have ANOTHER meeting…

Followed by perhaps ANOTHER meeting…

Then they discuss it with their lawyers (by the way… do NOT take the ideas here as things you should do. ALWAYS CONSULT YOUR LAWYER. This is just me, rambling my thoughts. There… that’s my disclaimer… in addition to the disclaimer I made above).

But, with local businesses, there is not that chain of command. They can act on this much quicker than the corporate businesses and like I said, many of these corporate businesses may not be able to implement these ideas.

So, again, I don’t know how much this applies to you (or if it applies to you at all). I’ve actually had these ideas/thoughts for awhile and just last night, decided to write them down (GOSH, MY FREAKIN’ FEET HURT 😦 😦 ). 

IF (and only IF) you feel someone may benefit from this, then please feel free to share it as long as they understand I am not offering business advice.

Gotta hobble off now. Bye (THE BOTTOM OF MY FEET HURT SO MUCH 😦 😦 ).

“Beautiful Angel”is Now Available :-)!

My new and improved Christmas fiction novelette, “Beautiful Angel“, is now out on Amazon Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/Beautiful-Angel-David-Ho-ebook/dp/B00Q67IH4M/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1477178589&sr=1-1&keywords=Beautiful+Angel   Summary: While “Beautiful Angel” has drawn comparison to other timeless, Christmas stories such as “A Christmas Carol” and “It’s a Wonderful Life” because of … Continue reading