Be Patient, Be Kind: Support Durham Local Businesses
Here's how you can help support local businesses in the midst of uncertainty.
Posted By Discover Durham Staff
Our global, national, regional, and local community are reeling from the implications of the coronavirus — and though we all face vulnerabilities, those in our hospitality industry feel this impact acutely. These are our small business owners, restaurateurs, hotel staff, and service employees, most of whom rely on the business of both visitors and locals. Now more than ever, tourism helps hospitality employees support themselves and their families at a time where childcare and medical care may require additional financial resources.
We, like everyone else, are not exempt from this unprecedented occurrence. But this is Durham. Our community knows how to rally, support, and lift up one another in times of difficulty. If you're wondering how to help while investing in the health and well-being of your community, here are a few things you can do:
Be Patient. Be Kind.
COVID-19 related precautionary measures are with us for the long haul, and community partners are making these adjustments for the first time, too.
We get it — lines and waits may be longer than usual for goods and services you used to enjoy prior to the pandemic. But these are our partners; folks who are on the front lines of the hospitality and service industry, tasked with protecting both themselves, their families, and the broader public while refusing to sacrifice the quality and quantity of their offerings.
Some tips: keep in mind that restaurants are often dealing with both in-person and online orders well before your arrival, and are juggling new order systems and protocols. If you have suggestions on how to improve service, encourage a positive dialogue with businesses owners via DMs on social media.
Buy Gift Cards and Certificates
For now or for later, there are multiple uses for gift cards and certificates — be they for a meal, retail offering, or activity you'll take advantage of when you feel ready to later in the season. Have family members or friends with birthdays, anniversaries or special occasions later in the year? Purchase gift cards ahead of time! Now is the perfect window of time to make to keep small businesses from feeling the pinch.
Buy Merchandise Online
You're online shopping anyway — why not online shop at your favorite local shops? Being intentional about your purchases at times like this make the world of difference for businesses who may actually have more inventory than usual due to lack of foot traffic.
For those of you who are either taking precautionary measures or have been required to be quarantined, variety may be just what the doctor ordered — and there's no need to leave your home to get it if you don't want to. Multiple delivery services allow for the best in Durham's culinary scene to be delivered to your front door, and many restaurants have robust delivery services. Don't forget to tip your delivery driver generously!
Tip Well if You Can
This is a great tip to abide by without extenuating circumstances, but this is especially important at times where part-time workers may have to miss shifts to care for children with school cancellations (every table counts). Shifts may be harder to come by at times like this as well; slower days mean fewer shifts to go around for regular employees. Make your visit count by leaving a generous tip for your waiter or waitress.
Cancel Reservations if You Can't Make It
Most outside of the service industry aren't aware that a reservation is a sort of binding agreement between a patron and a restaurant — orders are made and menus are prepared with the assumption that they'll be consumed. In house dining spaces may be closed for now, but if catering, partners prepare for customers who don't show, they're often left without profit or produce. Staff members are often recruited for orders ahead of time as well to assist with multiple parties. Be courteous and honor your plans.
Lean into self-care
You're at home. Things can get monotonous. Have you thought about supplementing your time while social distancing with local hygiene products, soaps, candles, and wares to spruce up your home? Explore our website by keyword to find partners you can support online.
Explore virtual and streaming services
Local yoga studios are exploring offering virtual spaces where you can join to practice at home. Sporting events are being canceled, but esports are alive and well, with exciting offerings you can explore to keep yourself entertained. What's more, if you can't get to Durham now, explore our virtual tour to explore our spaces from right where you are.
Follow on Social Media
Local businesses, artists, producers, gallery owners and restaurateurs can always use more traction on social media. Be sure to follow your favorites to bolster their networks.
Offer Relief to a Rescheduled Event
Did the event you were hoping to attend get rescheduled? Donate to the organization, artists, or groups that were scheduled to attend. Be sure to plan for an event further in the future by purchasing tickets in advance, too.
Support local farms
Local pick up, home delivery and online pre-orders can be arranged directly with farmers. This reduces food waste and helps support restaurants and farmers with excess inventory they would normally use as part of service and farmer's markets that have been postponed or cancelled. Arrange your produce delivery here.
For Small Business Owners ...
If you're a Durham business owner reading this and wondering what you can do if the coronavirus is affecting you, we want to hear from you. What's more, there are digital tools you can use to ensure that the folks who need to find you and your goods and services can: Google recommends updating business hours if you're limiting your open hours, updating your business descriptions to reflect current services, and making sure you have a correct phone number on your My Business listing to ensure potential visitors can reach you.
Get Back On the Bull
In an effort to ensure businesses in Durham are being transparent about their efforts to keep visitors safe, the Durham Recovery & Renewal Task Force (RRTF) just recently launched a new health and safety awareness campaign named “Back on the Bull.” Once a business or organization completes the advanced, industry-specific checklist applicable to them at backonthebull.com, a customized PDF will populate, detailing the steps they have committed to take to reduce risk for staff and customers. Over 200 businesses have already completed their checklist. If you’re visiting soon, be on the lookout for "Back on the Bull" branding at businesses that have completed the safety checklists. You’re also invited use the website’s searchable map to click on businesses that have completed the checklist and see the full list of safety measures they have pledged to implement.