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6 Little Ways To Support Local Businesses That’ll Go A Long Way

The pandemic has been challenging for small businesses. While many adopted and found new ways to maintain their customer base (hello takeaway margaritas and quarantine care packages), staying afloat during ever-changing restrictions and fluctuations in case numbers has been a continuous uphill battle.
With the assistance of social media, online stores (and even new online platforms like Telstra Plus Market), it's never been easier to support your favourite local businesses. While you're probably no stranger to ordering takeaway from your favourite local Thai restaurant or parading the canvas tote bag from your local florist, there are so many other ways to support the locals that give soul to our suburbs.
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With that in mind, here are a few out-of-the-box ways you can support small businesses, so they can keep doing what they do best and you can continue to make the most of their services.

Utilise community groups

There's no better way to sing the praises of your favourite local business than to tell other locals about it.
Although you may be spending most of your time on TikTok or Instagram, Facebook is a great way to connect with other people in your area. Most suburbs or towns will have their own community-run Facebook groups, and they're a great place to shout out your favourite small businesses.
Recommend your favourite local florist for birthday bouquets, your favourite cafes for Sunday brunches, which bottle shop will recommend the best wine for a first date picnic — folks are always on the lookout for a hidden gem, so, the opportunities are endless. After all, you'll be helping create loyal customers who are likely to return given their proximity to the businesses.

Connect them with your network

Whether it's graphic design or plumbing, we all know someone with a unique and valuable skill. So, if a small business needs a particular service — say, the owner of your favourite cafe mentions they're looking to re-design their website — connect them with people in your network who you know can help out.
A word of mouth recommendation is always more reliable than a faceless Google search, and helping connect locals is an easy way to foster a supportive community environment.
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Engage online

Whether it's as simple as tagging them in your Instagram story, signing up for their monthly e-newsletter or actually purchasing something from their online store, being part of a business' online community is just as important as being a physical customer in this day and age.
Conveniently, there are even more ways to do so now, with services like the Telstra Plus Market platform (available through My Telstra) that connect consumers with eligible small businesses to keep them in the know with exclusive deals — which is an even bigger incentive to shop local. Businesses will be able to sign up directly, and shoppers will receive points for buying locally (which can be redeemed in any Telstra Plus Rewards Store on a range of devices, tech, accessories and more.)
While this one may not seem so out of the box, it is incredibly important — engaging with a small business online is probably the easiest and most cost-free way of supporting any local business.

Buy gift cards for family and friends

Let's face it — giving (or receiving) a generic department store gift card as a present is always a little underwhelming. While it is certainly a nice gesture, gifting something a little more bespoke or tailored to someone's interests is always the better way to go.
Buying a friend or family member a gift card for a local destination that they're either yet to try out or know and love will surely mean so much more. It'll be a great gift and an easy way to show continual support for your favourite stores.
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Make it a habit

It's easy to fall into the convenience of heading to a big department store or chain retail and grocery joints for our everyday needs. If you have the time and money to do so, making a habit of relying on local grocers, boutiques, and other specialty stores for necessities is an easy way to show your support.
If you're the kind of person who loves a weekend errand run, you can plan your entire Saturday/Sunday itinerary around them. Kick things off with a pastry from the local bakery, head to the local grocer and independent bottleshop for dinner supplies and finish it off with flowers from the local florist.
If you're struggling to keep tabs on locals to rely on, you can always check out sites like this that keep directories of local businesses or make a call out in your community Facebook group for recommendations.

Use their delivery services

This one may be exclusive to cafes, restaurants and florists, but still important nevertheless. While it's tempting to rely on the convenience of our favourite delivery services, when purchasing takeaway or delivery, it's always best to order directly from the business.
Cancelling out the corporate middle-man is a great way to ensure your money is going directly to business owners. If you can, popping in IRL to pick up your order and say thank you is a bonus way to show your appreciation.

Make a genuine connection with the owners and workers 

IMO, there's no easier way to achieve main-character status than having a barrister remember your coffee order. So, if you not only want to keep that feeling going and support local businesses, create a genuine friendship and connection with the folks running the place.
Strike up a conversation with the workers when you visit, pop in even when you haven't planned to, and even surprise them with holiday treats like you would a friend — a community is all about generosity. It gives them a purpose, let's them know they're supported and creates a feeling of genuine family amongst locals.
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