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How to support small, local, indie businesses (while social distancing)

How to support small, local, indie businesses (while social distancing)

This pandemic is scary.

We just don’t know what’s going to happen, and we need to be kind to one another.

Like many other Millennials with Boomer parents, one of my biggest worries is that they’re not taking this seriously. My husband and I are physically healthy, catching the virus myself is honestly close to the bottom of my list of fears right now.

From a public health perspective though, it is so important that we stay the f at home as much as we can.

Because, despite what the end-of-the-world memes and pithy social commentary would have you believe, we are not in a post-apocalyptic hellscape. Yet.

We are, right now, in the eye of the storm. Our actions now (both collectively and on an individual level) determine what the post-apocalypse will look like.

Health food shops in Leeds

Leeds has such a diverse and fast-paced independent food and retail scene. That’s mostly down to the huge number of independent businesses (and the people who work in those businesses).

But, just days after the official government advice to avoid going out, businesses in the F&B, hospitality and retail sectors are closing their doors or taking drastic steps to continue offering goods and services whilst keeping staff and customers safe.

If we’re expecting to return to some kind of normal, we need those small businesses to still be there when we emerge from isolation.

The high street as we know it (the bars, pubs, restaurants, shops, salons) is unsteady. The kinds of small, local indies that rely on tight cashflow with little-to-no financial reserves to fall back on, need our support now more than ever.

Retail and hospitality workers are also some of the lowest-paid and least protected*. Indie businesses need to stay operational to ensure their staff get paid.

My husband runs one of these indie food businesses (he’s one-half of vegan kebab slingers DΓΆner Summer). We’ve spent much of the week coming up with ways for people to support small businesses like his. Like so many others, we’re trying to pay wages, pay the bills, and keep the business afloat.

By continuing to shop local, you can ensure our vibrant indie food scene is still here on the other side:

May is the start of street food season

How to support small, local, independent food businesses & retailers while social distancing

Order takeout or delivery 🥡📦

Keep eating your favourite foods and getting the goods you need from local businesses by ordering delivery or to-go. Keep an eye on the social feeds and DM or call if you think they might still be open. This is how a lot of businesses only have an instore location are getting by right now.

Tip 👏 your 👏 servers 👏

If you do order (either for collection or for delivery) make sure to tip your server or driver. Hospitality workers are some of the lowest-paid, and most precariously employed*. They’re also on the front line, unable to social distance, making them more vulnerable to catching COVID-19 than those of us able to work from home. A few quid in the tip jar can make all the difference right now.

Pay by card 💳

Pay by card if you can, to protect yourself and workers. Contactless is even better to avoid unnecessary touch. The virus can remain active on surfaces (which would include notes and coins) for hours or even days.

Buy gift cards or discount cards 🎁

Another way I’ve seen indies surviving right now is to sell gift cards or discount cards. Essentially, pay now and redeem for a free meal/coffee/book (or 50% off the above) later. This is a way to bring some much-needed cashflow into the small businesses that can’t open right now. It also gives you something to look forward to when we’re all allowed outside again.

🔊 Spread the word

Whatever way your local indies are supporting themselves, they’re likely sharing it on Twitter, Insta and Facebook. As well as giving them your actual cash-money, sharing on social media (or in the group chat) can spread the word. Encourage friends, family and neighbours to stay home and get the goods they need from your favourite indies.


Whether its the option to order beers for delivery from your local pub, to pick up a meal kit from your favourite restaurant, or a takeout breakfast sandwich from your regular brunch spot, some home-entertainment delivered from your local indie bookshop or record store, a gift card to that restaurant you always meant to take your mum to, a discount card to get money off your favourite coffee when you start commuting again, or a voucher for the hairdresser so you can get a trim before venturing back outdoors, continue to #ShopLocal and support independent businesses (and vulnerable workers*) near you.

How to support small, local, independent food businesses & retailers while social distancing

*The topic of vulnerable workers in the hospitality sector is a whole other issue, but essentially the prevalence of things like zero-hours jobs, ‘self-employed’ gig-work, ‘casual’ work with no formal contract, and a high-turnover workforce, may render many protections (sick pay, redundancy pay, notice periods) null-and-void for a lot of workers in the sector.


If you liked that post, why not get my free resource 'Vegan & gluten-free Leeds 2019'. It's a short eBook that lists some of my favourite places in Leeds to get free-from food. Fill in your details below to sign up.

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