Think Before You Purchase
In Nutley, every corner you turn there is another locally-owned business. From the many restaurants, coffee shops, salons, bakeries, shops, and many pizza places, the local businesses are what make the Nutley community so special. This past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected businesses across the United States with the continuous changes in restrictions. Small local businesses have especially struggled after closing temporarily or even permanently. Fortunately, looser restrictions and the distribution of the vaccine allowed customers to go out and realize how important it is to support the locals.
At the start of the pandemic, local business owners had to come up with creative ways to keep their businesses alive, while also keeping the health of their community in mind. Local owners of Pretty Handy, Robert Noone, and Joyce Lin open up about their experience with their gift shop/marketplace during the pandemic.
“As a non-essential business, we were ordered to close along with many other small businesses in town,” explains Robert and Joyce. “Closing for even a month is a big deal for small businesses who still need to pay their bills - rent, insurance, internet, and more. That is thousands of dollars per month, and many small businesses (especially those that have just recently opened) don’t have those kinds of savings.”
Robert and Joyce quickly realized that they had to find a way for customers to interact from their homes. “We sat down for a couple of hours and thought about it, and did the only thing we could think of,” says Robert and Joyce. “We made craft kits with literally anything we could find that we had on hand and delivered them to help entertain families. We’re so happy that they were a hit, and that the community decided they wanted to support us, and keep us around.” Many local businesses came up with different strategies to keep families entertained while stuck at home. Craft kits, homemade pizza kits, nail salon kits, online shopping options, live streams, haircut how-to videos, and many more were created to keep the community engaged.
Especially since the closing of many businesses, more customers have realized the importance of thinking twice before purchasing from a large corporate company. “It’s important to support local businesses because they are what help to shape your community,” explain Robert and Joyce. “The better the local businesses do, the more we are able to support the town. From fundraisers, school events, non-profits, etc.” The effort the community puts into local businesses is reflected in the many gatherings and events the town has. “The local businesses are constantly asked for donations to tricky trays, sponsorships, and donations. We love to say yes to everyone that asks but are sometimes unable to. The better the small businesses do, the more likely they are to expand, and bring more exciting small businesses to town.”
In order for businesses to succeed during a time of constant change being able to adapt to those changes is key. “Going with the flow! Everything is constantly changing, and changing and adapting is so important,” says Robert and Joyce. Businesses continue to work hard to make sure that their work is constantly improving for themselves, the customers, and the community.
Thinking about the people is something to keep in mind while purchasing. Most of the time, items sold through large businesses are also offered at local businesses. That one change in the purchase can impact the whole community. In the New York Times, the managing partner of Independent We Stand, an organization that provides marketing assistance to small businesses across the country, stresses the impact of consumers. “There is a multiplier effect,” said Bill Brunelle.“If you buy at a hardware store, that owner may hire a local accountant, while the employees may go to local restaurants and other nearby stores. The success of one business can steamroll through the economy.” But supporting local businesses doesn’t only mean being a consumer, it means being a supporter.
Recognition goes a long way. Spreading the word by tagging businesses in photos, referring the business to a friend, writing a positive review, or even just following the business on social media helps them to grow. Staying loyal also plays a huge role in keeping the community filled with the small businesses that are loved. Especially during a global crisis, keeping these local businesses in mind for your next purchase is crucial to keeping them open.