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Shop Local

By Nathan Coker
In Bayou Kidz
Nov 11th, 2020

Support Our Small Businesses

article by Cindy G. Foust

Vintage vector advertising sign with Christmas bauble and holly. Support small business, shop local for Christmas.

Anybody out there got any idea how Black Friday is going to look this year? Asking for a friend. Because I’m of the opinion that every day of 2020 has been a perpetual Black Friday. Ya’ll with me?

But here we all are on the actual, virtual cusp of the holidays and Black Friday is looming like a big black bear. Can you imagine for a million dollars what a nightmare this is going to be for retailers? They will likely have lines wrapped around their buildings for miles as they let 3 people in their stores at a time, in hazmat suits covered in Lysol. So where does that leave us with our shopping needs?

So, here’s my plan: I’m a huge proponent of shopping local and personally, I plan to start early and do as much shopping as I can with our local businesses. These are the ones who are struggling to survive both a pandemic and back-to-back hurricanes. Right… another sign that we need to label 2020 with a skull and crossbones.

I know the major retailers took hits as well, but the ones who have me in my feels are the businesses on the corners of our community who are fighting to stay alive. And while the shopping experience may look different this year, and we know it will, and we are all shopping in masks which make it more difficult to identify each other, I encourage you to take the time to be intentional with how and where you shop.

Don’t get me wrong, I know the internet will be full of great deals, expedited shipping and shopping made simple at the click of a button. But how about making this year look different from the vantage point that you can control, and that is to support the businesses who more than ever need our support. What’s even better, if you have children or teenagers who are old enough to understand this process and the importance of supporting locally owned businesses, sit down with them and explain a few things. 

First, small businesses drive the economy. Quite frankly, we need them and this year more than ever, they need us. Give your kids an economics lesson and as a family, make a master Christmas list (you know how I love a good poster board project) for everyone you buy for and get the family involved in how you can gift buy right here at home. Or make a map of the area stores that offer gifts and gift ideas for the ones on your list and be intentional in shopping with these businesses. And I would start early, right? You don’t have to do them all in one day! Because as I am also the editor for our great magazine, as well as a world-renowned nearly 8-year columnist, I am getting to see firsthand the creativity, the partnerships and the coming together as a community of these businesses as they strategically figure out how to market themselves during this ongoing pandemic. With curbside shopping, free delivery, Open Houses, and free gift wrapping, they are pulling out all the stops to show they are here and they are here to stay. Whatever ways you take advantage, make your lists, create a roadmap that takes you through our community and be intentional with your efforts. 

     So, what are some of the other ways we can help them? I’m glad you ask because I’ve come up with a few options that I know you are dying to hear about.

Next, and I really, really love this one, but I think our local business owners are probably already and of course, have big plans to, run extended hours. Even after the doors close for the business day, their “second day” will start and they will be wrapping gifts, filling online orders, restocking, and organizing delivery schedules. It almost makes me feel like they will be sleeping while they wrap! 

Why don’t you and your family have food delivered to their stores for their staff or better yet, make some goodies that can be dropped off while they work through their days? Most of us will be home sipping hot cocoa watching a good Hallmark movie, but our local business community will literally be putting in the hours to keep up with the holiday frenzy. I tell you what, I have some really good friends who love helping me spend my money at Herringstone’s, and it would be a great honor to bring their crew some homemade salsa or a sandwich tray from Chicken Salad Chick, another local business. Get creative in how you do it, just be intentional.  

Next, and I thought this one up all on my own, but use your social media platforms to advertise for the businesses you are patronizing. This is a powerful way to help our local businesses, particularly if you have a great shopping experience. Take pictures of the business delivering your gifts that have been gift wrapped or bringing them out to your car. Or take pictures of some of the treasures you have bought that might be of interest to your social media tribes. The value of this type of promotion, in a word, is invaluable. And if you read a really good article in BayouLife, you know, like Bayou-kidZ, share it on Facebook, because, well, it is written by a columnist who has been with the magazine for nearly 8 years. It’s shameful to make personal plugs for yourself, but hey, I have to create fans where I can. All joking aside, it doesn’t cost a thing and it goes a long way in your social media networking for your family and friends to see opportunities or gift ideas they aren’t aware of or hadn’t thought about. Again, intentional.  

Lastly, if you have historically supported a non-profit agency, even though they run their organizations from a not-for-profit standpoint, they still depend on the community for financial support. Many of the organizations my family has supported this year have decided to forgo asking for membership dollars, which is money they lean heavily on for their operational budgets. How about, and I plan to lead by example, making a donation of the money you would ordinarily give for a membership anyway? If you don’t have a favorite or one that you patronize regularly, pick one, or three, and make a donation. This month’s BayouLife has pages and pages of non-profit organizations who do very important work; arts agencies who have been here for 50+ years; and others who support many charitable causes that might otherwise go unserved. Send them a gift, volunteer your time or support their causes through your social media well. We are all in this together and together we can work to take the sting of what has been unprecedented financial hardships, particularly with our non-profit friends. Did I say to be intentional?

Small businesses are the heart of our community, I think we can all agree on that, and this is the perfect season, the perfect time, to show them how much they mean to us and how much we want them to stay. We’ve all been dealt COVID blows this year, in some way or the other, and none of us have been completely insulated from this awful pandemic. But as I have said in recent columns, it doesn’t have to be bigger than us in every area of our lives. This is something we can control, this is a way we can help, and it gives us an opportunity to share our resources with so many who have been dealt terrible blows. It also creates yet another opportunity to parent our children through a situation where they can learn from kindness, thoughtfulness and generosity. This virus, no matter what it has taken from us, cannot, in any way, take away those lessons, especially if we sit down with our families and be strategic with our gifts and our time and our resources. These intentional efforts are what make the BayouLife community the generous and supportive beacon it is, and why I am proud to live here. 

Cindy G. Foust is a wife, mom, author and blogger. You can find her blog at the alphabetmom.com for weekly columns about home life,  parenting, small business stories and insight with a smidgen of literacy. Give her a like or follow on Facebook and Instagram.