Over the past two weeks, life has changed dramatically right before our eyes. Our community is facing challenges and uncertainty like we have never experienced in our lifetime. We’ve seen businesses getting creative and transforming their standard models within hours. Restaurants and coffee shops are offering curbside and delivery options. Bakeries are providing cookie decorating kits and online cake decorating classes. Hair stylists are making at-home color kits for their clients. Fitness centers are offering virtual classes. Bookstores and libraries are expanding online offerings. Museums are providing online virtual tours for students.

This community is strong — #SAWStrong. We are resilient. Together we will all come out of this stronger, with more compassion and innovation than ever.

Many in our community are asking how they can help support local businesses, while still practicing safe social distancing. Here are a few tangible ways we can all support our local economy:

» Purchase a gift card online to use at a later date. This will help the business with cash flow (they still have bills to pay despite many of them being temporarily closed).

» Pick a different business or organization each day and leave them a positive review on Facebook or Google.

» Engage online with your favorite businesses. Share and comment on their posts.

» If you have a membership or subscription to a business, continue paying it if you can.

» Tip your service provider in advance for future services. Professionals who depend on tips like hairdressers and nail technicians will appreciate the timing of such an act.

» Open up a tab for future services at a business you know you’ll patronize in the future.

» Buy tickets now if you plan on going to future events at local theaters. Not sure when you plan on attending? Purchase a gift card.

» Order takeout or delivery from your favorite restaurant and over tip if you have the means.

» Plan a virtual cocktail or coffee hour with friends and take the amount that you would have spent on your beverage and donate it to your favorite wine bar, coffee shop, brewery, cidery or winery.

» Some businesses and organizations have set up online donation sites- give to those if you can.

» Ask a business owner how you can help. This kind gesture will go a long way.

» Have a local restaurant charge your card for a specific amount. Reach out to first responders and health care providers and let them know that coffee, lunch, etc. is on you.

When you support a local business, big or small, share via social media. Take a photo, tag the business and let your friends and family know how they too can help our local businesses during this time of uncertainty.

We may not be able to control much of what is happening around us, but we can control how we come together as a community. Let’s continue to stay positive, check in on one another and support our local businesses. Follow the Greater Augusta Regional Chamber of Commerce on Facebook, Instagram and our website as we share ways we can all be #SAWStrong.

Courtney W. Thompson

Greater Augusta Regional Chamber

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