When Mother Nature decides to come at us with all she has, as she did recently with plummeting temperatures and dangerously frigid conditions, small businesses in Willmar and surrounding communities can take a huge hit. And the repercussions are significant.
For many people, inclement weather might be irritating or annoying. But it’s unlikely to be life-changing. For small business owners, however, major weather events can be devastating.
Stores may have entire days with no sales. Businesses might need to close entirely for a few days if their staff can’t get to work. Service providers such as hairdressers, house cleaners, and massage therapists receive an endless stream of phone calls from clients who need to cancel.
All of these weather-related setbacks can be hard for a small business to overcome since it’s likely that most are surviving with a minimal financial safety net in place. That is if they have any safety net at all. While their income drops off, their bills and rent and payroll remain steady and due on time.
And speaking of payroll, when Willmar’s small businesses need to close due to weather events, that means hourly staff often goes unpaid as well, further hurting the local economy. The bottom line is that while students and teachers might be rejoicing in a day off from school, our local community as a whole can suffer.
When small business owners suffer a dramatic reduction in sales due to the weather, it can mean the difference between making rent and not. It can be the difference between having grocery money and not. And it can absolutely mean the difference between staying in business and going under.
How Can You Support Local Small Businesses?
When it comes to inclement weather, safety comes first. No one wants business owners, their employees, or their customers to jeopardize their health and safety. So if shoppers need to stay home, they should.
But there are ways you can support small business during weather events from the comfort of your home. Here are the top three ways you can make a difference during these times:
1. Be sure to reschedule
If you need to cancel a scheduled service with a small business, such as a haircut or oil change, reschedule as soon as possible when the weather improves. If possible, consider adding on to your usual service one time to help offset the hit your provider took. For example, maybe you can add on a carpet cleaning to your rescheduled housekeeping time. Or add a color to your haircut. Even small differences help.
2. Order gift certificates to use later
Many brick and mortar stores and service-based businesses offer gift certificates by phone or through their websites. Take advantage of the convenience of buying these now to use as gifts or for your own use after the storm. And if your favorite local business has online ordering for their products, by all means, use it.
Social media is a powerful tool for small businesses. If the weather has you stuck at home anyway, take some time to follow and like local companies on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Share their posts. Comment and leave reviews for them. These are simple ways to give a business a boost even when you can’t physically go in to support them.
Running a business is hard work. But the rewards are tremendous for communities that support small business. As we come out of our deep freeze here in Willmar, and start to shovel out, take a look around and see who you can rally around with your referrals, recommendations, and dollars. Our city is worth the investment.