On Feb 25 2022 / by Wyoming Paul

6 ways to support local businesses during Covid-19

Even if you don’t have extra money to spend right now

Many of us are needing to be frugal at the moment, but we still want to support small local businesses where we can. After over a month without cash flow, many cafes, restaurants, bars, studios and retail stores are hurting, and without some love and loyalty we may see a lot of great places in our communities closing their doors.

The good news is that you can show your support in lots of different ways, no matter your budget. Here are six ways to support local businesses (and for some of them, you don’t have to spend a dime).

1. When you are going to spend, check local first

Plenty of cafes, restaurants, and local shops have now opened their doors (or windows) for click-and-collect or delivery. While you’ve probably got the takeaway dinners down, you might not have considered the retail shops that are now open for business. Plenty of bookshops, clothing stores, and others have collection and delivery options - so before you go to Amazon or Alibaba, check what your local stores are offering.

  • In NZ, you can use Delivereat to find over 1000 independent food businesses that are delivering during lockdown, and The Spinoff has a list of the best restaurants in NZ that are now offering takeaways
  • For our Brisbane friends, Finder has a great tool (constantly being updated!) that lists local restaurants open for takeaways, and UrbanList has produced a list of fifteen local grocery stores that are now delivering
  • Our favourite Auckland bookstores, Time Out and Unity, are open for both click-and-collect and delivery, while in Brisbane, Folio Books is delivering and Archives Fine Books (our colleague Emily’s favourite!) is open to 10 visitors at a time

2. Buy vouchers or gift cards

If you have a favourite hairdresser, massage therapist, beautician or any other business that can’t open up right now, why not buy a voucher for later? You’ll be giving that business some revenue as well as the security of knowing that their customers will return when they can. Plus, you’ll have something to look forward to later on.

Another great option is to buy gift cards as presents. Not only will you be supporting local businesses and making sure that your loved ones have something exciting on the horizon, but you’ll also introduce new customers to the businesses you want to support.

  • If your favourite store or cafe doesn’t have an online voucher system, try looking for them (or recommending that they list) on SOS Business, a NZ not-for-profit platform where small businesses can sell digital vouchers to their customers
  • For kids activities, a similar platform has just cropped up called Love Play
  • Australia has a similar platform called LocalSpots which allows you to purchase gift cards for shops and restaurants in New South Wales, Victoria and the ACT

3. Try online exercise classes

Gyms, yoga studios, and other fitness centres have been hit hard, and it’s uncertain how they’ll fare once they open up again. However, you can support your local by seeing if they have online classes or are offering Zoom workouts.

Many studios and fitness instructors have set up affordable subscriptions on platforms like Namastream, where you can watch as many video classes as you like for a monthly fee. Some have signed onto Give Fit Back, where you can do a range of live classes and then donate to the teachers. Other personal trainers are offering individual or group training sessions so you can do a supervised workout from home (for example, at Parkable we have a weekly Zoom bootcamp set up with our favourite PT, so we can all see each others’ lovely, sweaty faces).

The Parkable online bootcamp

4. Use tech platforms that support local businesses

The phrase ‘local business’ often conjures up images of cute stores and cafes, but you can also make the choice to support local when you use the apps on your phone. Here are a few examples:

  • When you can, support local businesses and people in your community by parking with Parkable rather than big international companies. Up to 80% of the profit goes back to locals who have the parking space, and since Parkable is an NZ company, the rest is going to locals, too
  • When you’re ordering food for delivery, consider a local service like Eat Local NZ. They only charge a 5% commission, rather than the 35% that Uber Eats still takes from businesses, so we’re big supporters!
  • In Australia, CourierMail has created an interactive map so you can find the opening hours and purchase options for shops, services, restaurants and cafes, while new platform Saving Plates connects people with local restaurants newly offering takeaway and delivery
  • If you’re getting a taxi, try a local platform - like Zoomy in New Zealand or DiDi (currently giving their drivers 95% of the riding fee) in Australia

5. Share some love on social media

If you don’t have a spending budget, you can still do a lot of good for local businesses by sharing your appreciation and sending new customers to their doors. This could include leaving a great review for your favourite haunts, liking or sharing posts from brands you support on social media, or telling other people that they should try them out. If you’re not one for public displays of affection, even sending a positive private message could really improve the day of local business owners.

Your sharing will bring new eyes to those businesses and make them feel supported - and who doesn’t need a boost of love and appreciation these days? Our Marketing Manager Michaela has been really grateful to have online classes from her gym, Sala.

Parkable's Marketing Manager Michaela sharing some love for her local gym, Sala

6. If you’re an expert, share your time

It’s not only through our dollars and voices that we can support local businesses - we can also give our time. If you have a background in law, accounting, insurance, marketing or design (to name a few) and have some spare time, why not volunteer your services to your favourite small business?

You may have ideas about how a business could do more to promote themselves, or be able to answer questions about finance. By helping businesses to improve their strategies now, they’ll be able to hit the ground running once things return to normal.

If you aren’t sure where to start, sign up to the great free platform Manaaki. It’s a forum which allows small businesses to ask questions and has a network of experts who can then offer advice.

We’re in this together

As things edge toward normal, let’s all keep supporting local businesses in whatever ways we can.

And what a great time to do it! We’d like to give a huge thank you to all the amazing platforms that have cropped up, allowing us to easily support local - a big shout out to the people behind Delivereat, SOS Business, LocalSpots, Saving Plates, Give Fit Back, Eat Local NZ and Manaaki, who have put their time and passion into helping local businesses during Covid.

And for all of you who continue to support Parkable and the local hosts who share their space with us, a big thank you - we couldn’t get through these trying times without you!