In a matter of weeks, the world around us has changed drastically—and as we strive to find a new sense of normal in our daily lives, there comes the realization that the way we did things before COVID-19 just doesn’t work anymore. Gone are the days (at least for now) of casual shopping, dining out, group classes, coffee shop work sessions, and friendly hangouts. Social distancing is definitely putting a strain on small businesses but there is some good news—they are adapting, and you can still support them from a distance. Here are 9 ways you can help your local spots stay afloat during the pandemic:
featured image via @giannispizzeria
Send meals to hospital healthcare workers from local eateries
If you have a fully stocked fridge and don’t need to eat out, this is the perfect way to support a lunch or dinner spot AND the healthcare workers risking their lives caring for the community. For example, Freshii in Middletown is encouraging patrons to buy meals for Riverview Medical Center staff, and many local restaurants are accepting donations from customers to go towards food donations for staff at local hospitals.
Purchase online classes
If your kids take advantage of the many classes around the state, find out if they’re offering online courses during this time. Companies like Miss Melissa’s Aardvarks, BeeYou Kids Yoga and Njswim are offering virtual classes, and Little Rockers is even offering virtual birthday parties through Skype.
Call orders into specialty shops
Bang Cookies located in Jersey City delivers nationwide, and many local coffee shops and general stores are offering porch delivery for their merchandise. Or try ordering from a national brand that’s giving local shops credit: Paddywax is an insanely good candle company sold in many boutiques, like Foolish Ginger in Asbury Park. Right now, they’re encouraging customers to name the store from which they typically buy their candles, and then they will credit the store as if you bought from there.
Buy a gift card to your fave restaurants
Many local restaurants, such as Terra Momo Restaurant Group (with restaurants like Eno Terra in Kingston and Albariño in Shrewbury), have closed their kitchens for now. Consider purchasing a gift card to use once a restaurant’s doors reopen to help with some much-needed cash flow.
Purchase groceries through a local grocer offering curbside pickup or delivery
Many grocers are protecting their employees and their customers by limiting the number of customers in stores. It’s easier to shop smaller stores too since they don’t draw the big crowds you see in supermarket chains. Dean’s Market (multiple locations), King’s (multiple locations), Delicious Orchards in Colts Neck and Livoti’s (multiple locations) are a few such grocers going the extra mile to help customers shop safely right now.
Order meal kits from your favorite restaurants
This is especially great if you have kids! Not only are you supporting a restaurant and getting something to eat out of it, but you also have a fun way to occupy the kids and break up the seemingly endless weeks. Tony Boloney’s in Hoboken, Gianni’s (multiple locations), and The Bistro at Red Bank are all offering take-home pizza kits right now.
Donate to a GoFund me account
Most restaurants are closing their doors and coming up with ways to support their staff during this time. Case in point: The owners of Federico’s in Belmar took out a $50,000 line of credit to support their staff throughout the pandemic. Others are setting up GoFundMe accounts and asking loyal clients and friends to help out. A donation to yours will allow your favorite restaurant to continue supporting its employees.
Seek out delivery or curbside pickup from restaurants
Since eateries can’t welcome patrons into their dining rooms, many have shifted to takeout formats with delivery through second parties like Doordash or doing touchless curbside pick-up options. Many more are allowing customers to access their menus and pick up curbside (most will come out when you arrive at the door). This is the time when you can treat your family to a restaurant meal from one of your go-tos or try a new place you’ve been meaning to check out.