We love to eat, drink, play and live like a local here in Jacksonville so it’s heartbreaking to see so many of our favorite businesses struggling during this unprecedented time of isolation and social distancing. We’ve put together a list of 15 things (plus a bonus) you can do to help support local businesses. Some of them are so easy, they cost nothing and can be done from the comfort of your own home!
Like & Follow Local Businesses on Social Media
This may sound silly, but now is the time to make sure you’re following all the social media for all your favorite small businesses. Many are posting updates on store hours, current inventory that’s for sale, live broadcasts of sales, etc. Not only will it help you keep up with them during this period of social distancing, it helps social media algorithms show their content to other potential customers. Some of our favorite local makers like Couture Jems even have special sale groups to help promote current inventory and let you in on special deals.
Write a Review for Your Favorite Small Business
A great (and totally free) way to support small businesses that you love is to provide an honest review on a big network such as Facebook, Google, Yelp, etc. Reviews help businesses get more traction on both social media and with popular search engines where customers look for their services. Reviews don’t have to be just for brick and mortar stores. Our favorite RAM vendors and many local makers are hurting right now due to market closures, so be sure to give them some love as well.
Comment, Share, Invite Friends to Follow Your Favorite Local Businesses
Go one step beyond just following your favorite small businesses on social media, get engaged with their accounts. Share a product you love with an authentic caption about how it’s benefited you. Tag the company and provide a link to the item. It gives the businesses value from the post, brings their brand to the attention of an audience they may not have reached otherwise. Word of mouth is a powerful component of marketing, so if you want to show your support for a business, don’t stop at being a consumer, be an advocate.
Buy Gift Cards to Local Shops and Restaurants
Yes, you can purchase gift cards for you and your family to use at a later date, but you can also think about starting your shopping for upcoming holidays such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and even Teacher Appreciation Week. Not sure where to start? Check out a few of our favorite local shops around Jacksonville.
Make a Wishlist & Share It
Mother’s Day is right around the corner and if your husband or family never knows what to buy you, tell them! Send links to products you love, from local businesses, that they can order for you. You get a gift you love and support a local business at the same time. Shops like The Admiral’s Daughter have even put together Jacksonville Local Love kits with favorites from several local makers in the area.
Sport Your Local Swag
Do you have a shirt from your favorite Jacksonville brewery, or a hat from one of our great, independently owned surf shops? Now is the time to wear it. Most of us are distancing ourselves from other people, but if you do have to go out, swag it up with your favorite local brands. You can also use this as an opportunity to post a picture yourself advertising your favorite local businesses and be sure to tag them on social media.
Start Shopping Online for the Holidays
Yes, now! It’s never too early to start your holiday shopping. Many local businesses have websites or Etsy shops so you can shop from the comfort of your own couch. Not sure where to start? Check our favorite local Etsy shops, local Jacksonville clothing companies, some of our favorite locally sourced Green Gifts, gifts for your furry friends, even independently owned toy stores here in Jacksonville.
Take Advantage of Take Out from Local Restaurants
Many of the local restaurants in Jacksonville are still open and need your support. If you’re out running errands, consider ordering ahead if the option is available. It’ll save you time waiting in public spaces, and gives you the opportunity to show your support to your favorite businesses during a tough time. Several local restaurants are offering family take-out meals that are ready for your to grab and go. Trasca & Co Eatery as well as Prati Italia (formerly Moxie) have take out family meals available and at V Pizza you can order your favorite pizza online and pick it up at one of their 7 locations.
Order Delivery From Your Favorite Local Restaurant
Lots of local restaurants offer delivery, either through their own delivery person or a third party service like DoorDash, Grubhub or Uber Eats. With several of these services you can even request no-contact deliveries, which means the delivery person will leave your order on the porch and text you when it’s arrived. Never used third party delivery before? Sign up now using our referral links and save a few bucks. DoorDash – get $15 off ($5 off your first 3 orders), Grubhub – get $10 off your first order, Uber Eats – use the code eats-jonathanb485 at checkout and get $7 off your first order.
Book Your Next Vacation with a Local Travel Agent
Using a travel agent might seem like a service reserved for older travelers, but they are here to serve anyone that wants to take a vacation. Many of them are facing crippling challenges with their business as travel bans widen. If you know someone who is a travel agent, let them help you book your next vacation. They can often get you great rates and they earn a commission without costing you anything extra. Local Jacksonville businesses like World Travel Outpost are happy to help you book everything from your post COVID-19 Disney trip to summer cruise.
Shop Local Authors & Bookstores for Entertainment
Yes, the libraries are closed, but even if you have to order online, there are lots of local Jacksonville authors you can support just by shopping from your couch. Better yet, if there’s something specific you’re looking for give Chamblin Bookmine or The BookMark a call and see if they can find it for you. Then you can swing by and pick it up without having to spend time shopping at the store.
Make Plans to Visit Your Favorite Businesses as Soon as it’s Safe
Start thinking now about your next family photo session, hair cut, blow out or date night and then make a reservation or book a session. Help your favorite small businesses fill up the calendar so they know there will money coming in after social distancing passes. Experiences make great gifts once social distancing is over.
Send your Favorite Local Small Business an Encouraging Note
Small business owners work hard for their customers. What better way to show them how much they mean to you and the community than with a personal note from a loving customer. You can send a note via email or through Facebook messenger, but you can also hand write a note. This is a great activity to get kids involved, they can color a picture or write their own letter to a favorite local business.
Buy Local Now to Enjoy Later at Home
When you think of take out, don’t just think of what you can eat tonight for dinner. Pick up a few extra meals or treats from your favorite local bakery and throw them in the freezer for later in the month. Did you know that mini cupcakes from Sweet by Holly, as well as cookies from Lucy’s Sweet Shop and Cinotti’s Bakery all freeze well! Stock up now for when the kids need a special treat. Cocktails from Camp Craft Cocktail are always enjoyable at home and local maker spaces like Creative Grain and Hammer & Stain are offering take home craft kits you can pick up and work on in the comfort of your own home.
Don’t Forget to Shop Local in the Coming Months
When the dust settles on the Conoronavirus and life as started to return to normal, don’t forget to continue shopping at and supporting your favorite local businesses. It might seem like we’ll get back to normal quickly, but it will take months for some businesses (and the families that run them) to recover from the loss of revenue.
Bonus: Pledge to Skip Black Friday
Unless it’s to support a small business, consider making a pledge to staying home on Black Friday. One way to support small businesses is to not spend your money at non-small businesses like department stores or major national or international brand stores. Those places are likely to be total zoos on Black Friday anyway, so save yourself the hassle and visit a small business instead.
Shannon Beckham is a former Special Education teacher, turned SAHM that doesn’t spend a lot of time staying at home. Mom to Cole & Kiley, she loves cheering on the Gators, early morning visits to the beach and traveling with her family. She blogs about her adventures at The Beckham Project.