5 Ways to Support Local Businesses During the 2020 Holiday Season

by Jason Sebeslav, Owner

The Peanut Mill Natural Foods Market was founded by my mother, Antje Wirth, in Niagara-on-the-Lake in April 1976. In the early days, we were famous for grinding peanuts into fresh peanut butter (thus the store’s name), fresh carrot and apple juice, healthy sandwiches and a few bulk food basics.

Four Generations of Family and Legacy Staff

Soon, my grandmother Liselotte (Lisa), came on board. Known for her passion for natural health and her genuine connection with people, Lisa helped the store early on to gain a loyal customer base. I began working in the store throughout high school and then joined my mother full time in 1998. About 10 years later, I became owner of The Peanut Mill Natural Foods Market, and in the years since, my own kids have all worked here, too! I’m proud and grateful that some of our staff have remained with us for many, many years (20+!) and helped make us who we are!

Shifts for Small Businesses in 2020

Over the years, we’ve changed a lot. But this year, like everyone else, the changes were big and unexpected. With the help of our loyal customers, dedicated staff, and some patience and persistence, we’ve shifted to offer curbside pick-up, local delivery and implemented all-new covid compliance protocols. 

We know we are lucky to be considered an “essential service”. And we also know the stress and uncertainty for many small businesses in our own community are very, very real.

Up Against Online and Big-box

Earlier this year, Amazon was reported to be making sales of $11,000 USD a second. And nearly 100,000 small businesses in the U.S. have closed permanently since the pandemic began, according to a recent Yelp analysis. Canadian small businesses have been similarly hurt. 

Many larger ‘big-box” retailers were allowed to stay open and operate throughout the COVID-19 pandemic while smaller stores were forced to close their doors. The big-box stores were allowed to sell essential products, such as groceries and pharmacy needs, but then further benefit by selling the non-essential items no longer available to the consumer from the smaller,  “non-essential” stores.

How Can You Support Local Independent Business in Your Community this Holiday Season?

The truth is, these small business owners are people we all know and care about. They are our family members, friends and neighbours. Independent businesses in your community are values-based, progressive, responsible and fair employers who are invested in the development and wellbeing of your community. They are vitally important to all of us – especially this year. 

Here are five ways you can check off all of the gifts on your list and help build a stronger community around you at the same time.

  1. Check local before you shop. Before shopping online or at a big box retailer, check to see if your items are offered through a local store. You may be surprised to find that the local small business offers new services such as curbside pick-up, delivery, personal shopping or special orders in order to serve you better during this time.
  2. Dine-in. In lieu of your big, holiday gathering, treat yourself to catering and order your “bubble” meals from local, independent restaurants. Why not take advantage of the smaller group size and indulge in having someone else do the cooking this year? Restaurants not only employ members of your community but local food suppliers are also dependent on their success. Without the option to offer to dine in, restaurants are some of the most at-risk small businesses of the pandemic. 
  3. Gift Cards. Let’s be real – any other year you might think gift cards were a “lazy” gift option! But in 2020 giving a gift card means giving a nearly zero-waste, zero-contact shopping spree. And if it’s a shopping spree with a local, independent business, all the better.
  4. Digital Memberships, Services & Products. Another zero-waste, zero-contact gift idea! If your local yoga studio, gym or other wellness provider is offering online memberships, courses, books, events or workshops, these are excellent ideas for the people on your list who are going to be stuck at home during the winter months (psst: that’s basically all of them).
  5. Share your love of local. Share your local shopping experience and goodies on social media. Tell your friends the story of how you discovered them. Show off their unique offerings. Brag about the cool things you’ve found. Make sure you tag the business so your friends know where to go to find out more.

We love this last one. And because we believe supporting local is more important than ever this season, we’re going to spotlight the local, independent businesses YOU love on Instagram throughout December with a two-part GIVEAWAY! 

We will choose one lucky customer to receive a $250 shopping spree with us… AND we will supply the owner and staff of a local business with up to 12 $100-value Winter Wellness Packs from Naka Herbs & Vitamins containing: Vitamin C, probiotics, multivitamins, Vitamin D and Hand sanitizer.

(Contest closed – winners selected – thanks for your participation!)