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Small companies created 1.9 million jobs in 2018, says the US Small Business Administration. With small businesses and restaurants (and their employees) taking a hit due to increasing coronavirus restrictions and a necessary uptick in self-isolation, you may be wondering how you can help your fave eateries, stores and local businesses. Here are some ideas that’ll help you help them.

Take advantage of curbside pickup, take-out and delivery. With the new mandates on restaurants and bars, they’re not able to provide in-house service to guests. But that doesn’t mean you can’t order from them! Governor Murphy stated today that takeout and delivery will still be permitted, so call in an order instead of snagging a table. Check food delivery services like Uber Eats, Grubhub and DoorDash to see what’s open near you.

Tip your delivery person generously. Retail and food service employees don’t have the same work from home opportunities that many office workers do. A lack of foot traffic often means a serious blow to their hours and income, not to mention that some struggling businesses will turn to downsizing and layoffs to stay afloat. Show them you appreciate their sacrifice and want to support them by tipping significantly more than you normally would. If you can’t dedicate yourself to this, pick up your own order.

Keep an eye out for deals like free delivery and special discounts. Many restaurants and shops are promoting special deals to boost business. Call them, visit their websites or look up their social media page to find out what specials are going on.

Spread the word on social media. If a business you love is running a special promotion, tell your friends and followers all about it. Even if you don’t buy anything right now, someone else might. Publicity for small businesses is always a good thing.

istockphoto.com / filadendron

Purchase a gift card. Thinking about all the shopping and eating out you’re going to do once things die down? Same. Buy a gift card to support your fave businesses in their time of need and pocket it to use at a later date.

Prevent the spread of germs at your favorite establishments. Pay with plastic instead of cash, call in your orders instead of ordering in person and share resources like spare hand sanitizer and wipes with the staff.

Shop online. If your favorite spot has a digital store, save yourself the trip and place an online order. It’s safer for both you and the store’s staff to steer clear of each other, and you’ll get to show your support (and score a cute new outfit).

Choose a local pharmacy or supermarket (if they’re open) over your usual chain. Let’s face it, anyone who’s been to their local Shoprite or CVS lately knows to expect crowds and limited stock. That sort of negates the leg up that chains have on convenience and selection compared to smaller spots. So, brave the same lines and shortages at a local pharmacy or grocery store instead—they need the business more than the big guys.

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