The COVID-19 pandemic has created a significant struggle for small businesses in the Seattle area. Many local Seattle companies have had to temporarily close or have experienced a significant drop in customers due to social distancing rules. At Cosmic Home & Pet, we have had to temporarily stop services due to Governor Inslee’s stay-at-home order issued in Washington state. This news broke our hearts into a million pieces. In the blink of an eye, like many, our lives completely changed.
We have had our pet business for 22 years; it is our passion and life’s work. The work we do is not a gig job or hobby for us at Cosmic Home & Pet. Our beloved business and career in the pet industry is something we have cultivated over two decades. Along with the financial loss, the emotional support and love we feel from our fur clients is also a profound part of the loss we are processing through right now.
While the federal government has provided an aid package for self-employed business owners, the process is much more challenging and lengthier as the system is worked out on the state and federal levels. Many businesses like ours have been placed on standby status for benefits.
As most of us know, social distancing is a vital step to preventing or at least delaying the spread of COVID-19, and it has completely disrupted the way most people live their day-to-day lives. We are no longer going out to the restaurants or bars with our friends and family, we aren’t attending classes at the gym, we aren’t going on vacation, and many people are working from home.
While we all are doing our best to adapt to this new, temporary lifestyle, many small businesses are struggling to make ends meet due to the sudden lack of customers. At the same time, we want to be part of helping to flatten the curve.
Here are four ways you can continue to support the small businesses you have come to rely on and appreciate in your community.
Continue to Support Local Businesses
Many states have stay-at-home orders that don’t consider, for example, pet businesses essential workers. If you are working from home and in the position where your employer has been able to make accommodations to support you, consider all the people and local businesses you have come to count on, and how you can help them get through this challenging time.
Most helpful, should you be in the position to do so, would be to continue to pay the people who help you around your house. Doing so is a great way we can come together as a community and come out stronger at the end of all of this. Such a gift will make a considerable difference as small businesses deal with the loss of income due to COVID-19.
Take Advantage of Modified Service Offerings
Look into what modified services a company is offering. Many small businesses are working on expanding their service offering within the boundaries of the social distancing limitations. For example, at Cosmic Home & Pet, we are offering online dog training sessions with co-owner and certified dog trainer, Brea. She has modified her course materials to be able to share them online. Specifically, Brea is offering support around any mindset struggles, feelings, or frustrations that are coming up for you around training your pup.
As many pet owners are currently at home with their pups and are looking for activities to fill the time, using online training is a great way to take advantage of this downtime while supporting a local business.
Make a Donation or Purchase Gift Certificates
You can also make a donation or purchase gift certificates for future use – even if a small business has had to close their doors, they still have bills to pay. Supporting them by donating or purchasing a gift certificate for future use helps with their cash flow and gives them more potential for surviving the pandemic.
Ask for a Credit Not a Refund
Finally, If you have already paid for future services that the business was not able to deliver due to state restrictions, consider taking a credit rather than insisting on being refunded. Not having to pay out a refund when their cashflow has become somewhat non-existent will make a big difference, and this will also show your support and faith in the business.
Think about all the services you utilize in your everyday life – if there are small businesses that you love and hope to continue supporting once the COVID-19 pandemic has passed, please consider helping them in this time of need.
We know from personal experience that we don’t know where we would be right now without the support of our amazing clients! Supporting local businesses is needed now more than ever! Together we can come out of this a more connected and loving community.