More Small Business Closures Are On the Horizon — Here's What You Can Do to Help

Here's exactly how to support your favorite small wellness businesses, beyond occasionally buying goods.

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Woman with face mask working at a small bakery

Since March, a ballpark 100,000 small businesses have had to permanently close. Now, with the prospect of lockdown 2.0, cold weather, and an unprecedented holiday season, more small businesses may be at risk.

Here's the deal: Most people plan to complete their holiday shopping with large retailers this year — like Amazon, Walmart, or Best Buy — to take advantage of the ease of online shopping and other perks, such as reward programs and free shipping, according to Tiara Rea-Palmer, head of retail at CouponFollow, a coupon code site. In turn, "small businesses are going to struggle with attracting shoppers this holiday season," she says, only adding to the long list of financial struggles they've already experienced in 2020. No doubt, wellness businesses (including gyms, studios, and alternative therapies) are among those at risk, considering their in-person offerings have been highly limited since the start of COVID-19.

In fact, a survey by small business referral network Alignable of more than 9,000 small business owners found that 48 percent of respondents are at risk of shutting in their doors in Q4 (aka the fourth quarter of a company's financial year, which includes October, November, and December). "For most small business owners, particularly in the retail space, Q3 and Q4 are their largest months for gross revenue," says Katie Hunt, business strategies and founder of Proof to Product, a resource for aspiring product-based business owners. This holiday season, in particular, is critical for keeping their doors open as they move into 2021. During this dumpster fire of a year, small businesses have had to carry high overhead (think: rent, staff, and inventory) while seeing a large dip in sales due to the pandemic, says Hunt, so "many are banking on this holiday season to help them recover."

And while small businesses *did* receive some financial aid (via the CARES Act) when the pandemic began, the U.S. federal government has yet to approve additional aid — and it may not happen by end of the year, says Luke Pardue, economist at Gusto, an operating platform for small businesses. And without said financial help, another 20,000 retailers, restaurants, and hospitality businesses are expected to shutter during the winter months, according to an October data report by Gusto. Ugh.

All of this is a major bummer, no doubt, but you can play a part in helping businesses stay afloat, even if you don't have a ton of disposable income ATM. Here's how to support small businesses including all your favorite wellness retailers, from smoothie shops and fitness studios to the cozy place where you get acupuncture when they need it the most.

Buy from the Small Businesses Around You

Shop your neighborhood.

Check out your local government website for business directories and retail maps, which you can typically find under the "tourism" or "explore" category. It's an easy way to discover small businesses in the area — especially those that don't have a strong online presence. Some cities and towns might even have special initiatives for connecting residents to local businesses; the city of Seattle, for example, has a "Shop Your Block" program, which allows residents to browse shops by neighborhood using an interactive retail map. There's also "Buy Local Santa Monica" in Santa Monica, California and "#ShoptheROC" in Rochester, New York, both of which list businesses by category. Even better, if you're participating in any group gift swaps with friends or family, consider implementing a "small or local businesses only" rule to expand your impact beyond your own purchasing power.

Buy merch with a small business logo.

If your favorite business has t-shirts, tote bags, or other merch featuring their logo, pick something up. You'll help by making a purchase and maybe even increase brand awareness by wearing the gear. This can be especially helpful for fitness studios or businesses that provide in-person services, since you may not be able to buy their main offerings (think: classes, memberships, or treatments) right now. You can even support businesses that aren't in your area by shopping on platforms like Bonfire, which creates custom apparel on behalf of coffee shops, dance studios, and more. (

Buy gift cards.

When you buy a gift card during the holiday season, it provides instant cash flow for the business — potentially tiding them over through Q4. Plus, most gift cards have far-off expiration dates or never expire, allowing the recipient (or yourself) to shop or sign up for classes when it's safer to do so.

BTW: According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), if a business closes down before you can use a gift card, how (and if) you can use the gift card depends on their bankruptcy filings. Take a tip from the BBB and buy gift cards with a credit card; this way, if the business shuts down, your credit card company may help you get a refund.

Shop online.

Thanks to the Internet, you can support small businesses from the comfort of your own home. Online marketplaces like Etsy, Artfire, and Storenvy, make it easy to discover creative makers both near and far. (For example, Apothékary on Etsy is a Brooklyn-based herbal apothecary that ships nationwide. Who can say no to ashwagandha delivered to your doorstep?) Some businesses have free-standing online shops — like Cassey Ho's Popflex Active — so check social media for the shop link. And if you must shop on Amazon, visit the Amazon Handmade marketplace to buy from independent retailers.

Some platforms allow online customers to leave tips or donations — so throw in a few extra bucks, if you can swing it (e.g. Brooklyn-based I See You Wellness accepts donations for a scholarship fund). Ideally you'll shop from nearby businesses to ensure your dollars stay within the community, and choose in-store/curbside pickup so your local merchants can save time and money on packing up orders.

Adjust Your Daily Habits

Order takeout or delivery.

If there's a farmer's market in your area, consider doing some of your food shopping there. When you're feeling too lazy to cook, order from your favorite eatery or try a new spot. Consider ordering from small mom 'n' pop restaurants, which might have relied on foot traffic and word of mouth pre-COVID. If possible, order directly from the business instead of third party apps that may skim profits by way of fees. (

On that note, try to bump up your usual tips. Delivery drivers, baristas, and other service employees are all working *extra* hard to maintain safety measures during the pandemic, and TBH, our communities would be nothing without them.

Sign up for virtual classes or events.

Attending virtual events, like a small fitness studio's online class, is an excellent way to contribute to the community while sheltering in place. Some studios, like Flow Yoga in the greater Austin area or Sky Ting in New York City, may even offer monthly memberships for online classes.

Live in a warmer climate? Check with your local studios to see if they're hosting socially distanced outdoor exercise classes. You can also use apps like Mindbody, Punchpass, and Schedulicity to find virtual fitness and wellness classes. Tip: Look for businesses labeled "boutique gyms" or "boutique studios," which indicate that they're a smaller spot. You can also tell a studio is on the smaller side if they have just one or two locations, give or take. (Bigger chains, like Orange Theory, are more likely to have multiple locations in a given region.) Some fitness businesses or independent instructors may also use Eventbrite to advertise classes too.

Show Support Online

Like and share on social media.

Interact with small businesses by liking, commenting on, and reposting their social media content; this will help them get more exposure and show up on other people's feeds. The next time you're sweating with local trainers during a virtual workout, take a picture and post it online. While you're at it, tag the business and use their hashtags so others can find them. (

Leave a positive review.

Head to Yelp, Facebook, or Google and let others know why you love a small business. Or, if you bought something online, leave a 5-star review and a nice comment. Your kind words will go a long way in terms of attracting future potential customers — and keeping small businesses alive.

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