As chain restaurants move to takeout only, gyms are closing across the country and states are transitioning to "mandatory" quarantine, small business owners are worried.
Military spouse and veteran small-business owners, however, may be worried slightly less.
Over the years, military spouses have developed businesses that move with them. From brick and mortar stores like Lakesha Cole's She Swank Marketplace, that has had locations in Japan; Portsmouth, Virginia; and Jacksonville, North Carolina, or online-based companies like The Nomadic Nation, these businesses may be affected by the lag in the economy, but they have weathered big storms.
But what happens now? When the country's economy is questionable, the future is looking a little plainer. And if you're caught shopping for anything but food, you run the risk of being mocked on social media. How do you support your military spouse and veteran small businesses through this time? We've got a few ideas.
1. Gift Cards. This may be the easiest way to support your favorite small businesses. Grab a gift for your local bakery, cleaning service or even your babysitter to help them keep going. You'll need all these services again when this is over. Especially that babysitter.
2. Order Online. We all need coffee right now, so instead of buying from the local grocery store, grab some online from one of your favorite coffee shops. Swatara Coffee Co. in Jonestown, Pennsylvania, has temporarily shut its doors to help #flattenthecurve but is still shipping its favorite coffees across the country.
3. Support Their New Ideas. The locally and military spouse-owned AR Workshop Evans outside of Fort Gordon, Georgia, found a way to maintain social distancing standards while creating a new product and helping parents with some "art at home" ideas. They've created a Take & Make Kit and are offering free delivery within a five-mile radius.
4. Pre-Buy for Christmas and Birthdays. Christmas is still going to happen. And birthdays. So, spend a little bit of that budget now and spread the joy. The wait time on handmade products may have gone down if people haven't caught onto this trend, so you may be able to get a quicker turn-around time. Ideas include clothing, handcrafted items and these beautiful bath bombs from Sugar and Spruce.
5. Books. Military spouse and veteran authors have an extensive number of books ready to help you fill the spare time you may now have. From books about military history to romance to comedy, you can find something for everyone. Even for kids!
6. Share their Social Media. There's going to be a massive influx of cash back into the economy when this is done, and what better place to spend than your favorite places? Encourage people to shop small and local when this is over by sharing your favorite places with them. Plus, it brightens up news feeds, and we could all use that.
As a community, we will get through this, and we want to make sure we take care of each other every step of the way. So give an extra thought to your favorite small business owners, and try to help them out in any way you can.
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--Rebecca Alwine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.