Help Preserve Nashville: 11 Little but Meaningful Ways to Support Our Small Businesses During COVID-19

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Country music may be the soul of Nashville, but it’s the locally-owned businesses that make up the heart. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted all of our lives, and (almost) everyone is ready to get back to “normal.” But what is “normal” if our small businesses don’t survive?

Here are a few suggestions of ways you can support local businesses from home to help our community during this pandemic. 

  • Buy local groceries.

Before heading to a global brand, consider picking up your weekly produce from local sources like the 12 South Farmers Market or Turnip Truck. Additionally, many restaurants are selling the items from their pantries and freezers to help make ends meet. While making your next grocery list, visit your favorite restaurant’s website to see if the items you’re looking for are awaiting you on their shelves. And maybe you’re planning to enjoy the sunny weekend by grilling out. Instead of visiting a commercial meat counter, consider ordering your meat from a local butcher like Bare Bones Butcher or Porter Road Butcher.

  • Order take-out.

You might not be able to sit in your favorite restaurant or bar, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy their food and drinks. Check out these two lists from Nashville Guru to see which local establishments are offering to-go food and booze! Some restaurants have even list a roll of toilet paper for purchase if you’re running low. 

  • Shop local online.

Pause before ordering what’s in your Amazon cart. Is it possible to get those craft supplies, at-home spa products, or kitchen gadgets from a local store? It’s so tempting to just hit “order” and receive the items on your doorstep within 24 hours. Amazon will most certainly survive the pandemic, so why not help the stores who need your business the most.

  • Send gift cards.

Just because we can’t gather, doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate. For birthdays, anniversaries, or just because, send your friends and family gift cards. Pretty much every business you can think of is offering them right now, and most are easily purchased online. Restaurants, coffee shops, book stores, hair salons, car washes…

  • Share the love.

You can help increase business for your favorite local restaurant by sharing about them on your social media platforms. Post the restaurant’s current menu and share photos from a favorite meal. May we suggest liking and re-post the restaurant’s content to your own page as well?  

  • Book a virtual session.

Service-oriented professionals like therapists, personal trainers, financial planners, and lawyers might not be able to meet in-person, but they are still able to meet your needs virtually. Keep your personal goals on track (and these professionals in business) by booking an online session. 

  • Schedule a service for later.

Though we don’t know exactly when social distancing restrictions will be lifted in Nashville, we do know that our current state is not permanent. Eventually, you will be able to hire a cleaning service to get your home in order after months inside. A contractor will (hopefully) soon be able to give life to the “Remodeling” Pinterest board you created during quarantine. And you’ll finally be able to get that much-needed massage you’ve been putting off since 2019. Why not go ahead and book these services now, ensuring they’ll still be around after lockdown and giving you something to look forward to in the months to come?

  • Consider before you cancel.

Many membership-based organizations, like the YMCA, have waived fees during the pandemic, and most events have been rescheduled for later dates. Before you cancel your memberships or request a refund for your ticket, consult your budget to see if cancellation is really necessary. You’ll probably still have the urge to shake your hips in Zumba class three months from now, and you’ve already spent the money for that Harry Styles concert. The people on the other end of the transaction are counting on your continued support. While this certainly not feasible for all, do ask yourself, are you in a financial place to offer it?

  • Give back to your favorite businesses.

Maybe the concert or event DID get canceled. Instead of asking for a refund, consider your ticket a “donation” or investment in the future of that artist, venue, or event. Perhaps there’s a local business you love without an online presence. Do you have any professional skills, like digital marketing or web design, that you can “donate” to support this business?  

  • Purchase an album or merch.

If there’s one thing Nashville will never lack, it’s talented artists and the local venues they play in. But with bars and venues closed, many of the city’s musicians are without steady work and income. You can help keep the “music” in Music City by purchasing an artist’s album online or purchasing merch from stores like Exit/In

  • Tip generously (if plausible).

The service industry is still the service industry whether workers are serving you in-person or virtually. In the US, workers rely on tips, and currently, they have far fewer opportunities to earn income. Consider the southern way and tip generously if you can. 

Nashville, Tennessee, USA downtown cityscape at dusk.

The true vitality of a community is made known during times like this. We need to help our neighbors, contribute to our community, and preserve the city that we all call home. 

In what ways are you committed to showing your support? If none of these options are feasible for your family at the moment due to hardship, consider sharing any information you can to others to help support our wonderful community. 

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Author: Mary Olson, Publications Committee ’19-’20