Buying local supports our area’s economy and builds community by directly helping our neighbors. According to Syracuse First, if we shift 10 percent of our budgets to supporting locally owned, independent businesses over non-local businesses, it could generate $130 million in new economic activity for Onondaga County alone, and nearly $25 million in new tax revenue.
This concept has never been more important, as we continue our fight against the coronavirus. Almost one year into the pandemic, the interest in — and support for — local businesses has gained even more momentum. Grassroots efforts, such as Eric Devendorf’s “Love Day” campaign and Taste of Syracuse’s Rescue Restaurants effort, raise the visibility of businesses that pump positivity into our community.
There are many ways for you — representing your business, or yourself as an individual — to support local businesses and the recovery of our local economy. Here are eight.
Takeout Tuesdays: The renaissance of the comfort and magic that the takeout experience brings was one of the most-loved traditions to be established since the start of the pandemic. All across Central New York, many eyes have feasted upon the perfectly plated meals that have taken the social-media spotlight. If you haven’t already joined in the fun, consider ordering takeout on Tuesdays — for your team or for your family. The Downtown Committee’s Delicious Downtown Deals promotion features about 40 offers at DowntownSyracuse.com.
Tips & memberships: If you have the financial means, take this to the next level by considering giving more in tips than you might typically offer. With the service industry among the most hurt by the pandemic, many people rely on tipping as a main income source. You may also consider maintaining existing local memberships and other subscriptions, even if services have been suspended.
Subscribe to newsletters and news sources: Many of our local news sources are local businesses, too. Editorial and operations teams have been working around the clock, doing more work with often fewer people to make sure our community stays safely informed throughout the pandemic. News sources represent an essential business that we can support through subscriptions, signing up for newsletters, and engaging on social media.
Harness the power of positivity: Write a positive review for a favorite place or spread the word throughout your networking circle. Word of mouth — spoken or expressed virtually — is still a powerful, personalized way to make recommendations.
Like, share, comment, endorse: Liking and sharing social-media posts from your favorite local businesses helps them reach even more people. Consider adding your own comments to draw attention to innovative techniques that your favorite restaurant is employing to sanitize, thoughtful hygiene practices at your hair salon, and the creativity of retailers and museums offering private appointments to shop and browse at your convenience. Sharing photos and videos from your experiences subtly serves as a business endorsement. By “showing and telling,” customers who may be a little apprehensive to return to restaurants, hair salons, retailers, and cultural institutions will be comforted by the progress shown through your camera lens.
Shop at farmers markets: We are fortunate to have the year-round CNY Regional Farmers Market on Syracuse’s north side and the seasonal Downtown Farmers Market in Clinton Square — granting access to a variety of produce, fresh bread, meats, eggs, and other products. Many of our local municipalities also have their own farmers markets. When purchasing directly from local farmers and market vendors, you know your selections are fresh and were picked within the week — sometimes that same day. Plus, your money stays local.
Gift cards and gift certificates: Gift cards offer a thoughtful approach to deliver a curated experience for a friend, family member, employee, or colleague — whether it comes in the form of a delicious meal at a treasured restaurant, an upcoming performance or theater show, or self-care through pampering at a salon or spa they otherwise may not have booked for themselves. Through these thoughtful gifts of experiences, money is also pumped back into the local economy. And as a bonus, sometimes businesses offer gifts to you when gift cards/certificates are purchased (For example: Purchase a $25 gift card, receive an extra $5).
Pay it forward through acts of kindness: Food can also be used as a vehicle to pay kindness forward. Do you have a sick friend or family member? Want to show appreciation for a health-care worker? Ordering a takeout meal(s) or treats-to-go to be delivered to their work or home will sweeten their day while providing direct sales for local businesses, as well as possible messages of gratitude on social media.
These are easy steps — some of them free – that your business can take, or that you as an individual community member can take to support our local economy. It will not only garner positive attention and drive sales for other local businesses, but it may also help you earn some positive attention, too.
Alice Maggiore is a consultant for Strategic Communications, LLC and serves as director of communications for the Downtown Committee of Syracuse. Syracuse–based Strategic Communications (www.StratComLLC.com) says it provides trusted counsel for public relations, including media strategy, media outreach, media monitoring, and analysis.