In the midst of all this COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus insanity, I received a very clearheaded email from Livelihood NW, one of the entrepreneur support organizations here in Portland, with a list of simple actions that would help small businesses owners impacted by pandemic to survive.
The primary advice for retailers to survive? Offer gift certificates.
If you can, sell gift certificates, pre-sell items online, and accept payments in advance for goods and services you will provide at a later date. You could have a special “COVID-19 Package” or sale where customers could get a discount or receive bonus items & services for purchasing in advance. These would be redeemable after the COVID-19 danger has passed.
Which prompted me to think. If those small businesses are going to be doing the work to offer gift certificates, then the community has to be prepared to buy them.
So I tweeted this.
But it seemed like we could do more than that. (Newsflash: Tweeting rarely solves anything.) Like figuring out some way to share this information more effectively. So I started thinking about ways to do that. And decided to sleep on it.
Come Saturday morning and my Built Oregon cofounder, Mitch Daugherty, pinged me with the same question. At literally the exact same time startup champion Juan Barraza pinged me to let me know he was working on capturing information about this very topic.
So we all put our heads together. (I mean, virtually. Social distancing and self imposed quarantine, amirite?) And came up with something quick to help.
Here’s how it works:
- If you have a favorite local retailer, restaurant, cafe, or other small business, do a little research to see if they offer gift certificates. Determine if they’re available online, over the phone, and/or in person. With that data in hand, please complete this form. It only takes a few seconds. Your effort could quite literally mean the difference between a local retailer surviving or shuttering. Because every little bit counts.
- Once submitted, that company will be part of this ever growing database of local Oregon retailers who offer gift certificates.
- Want to add a whole bunch of companies at once? Use this Google Sheet template (like Cami Kaos did to seed the initial database with businesses in Sellwood). Then share that sheet with me, and I’ll upload it to the main database.
- Pick a few companies where you can spend a few bucks on gift certificates to help the local economy.
- Win. In fact, we all do.
Because the negative impact these companies are feeling is very real. (h/t Nick James)