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How to support local businesses during lockdown and beyond

Right now, Nova Scotians need to limit their non-essential movements to help us all get through this third wave of COVID-19. While that means living with a lot of restrictions, our latest lockdown also includes opportunities to safely support the local economy and each other.Last year, a number of farmers’ markets pivoted to online orders and contactless pick-up and delivery. The Lunenburg Farmers’ Market, for example, set up a website for easy pre-ordering Friday to Monday. You then pick up your order at the Lunenburg Arena on Thursday.

A new Farmers’ Markets of Nova Scotia interactive map details which of the over 35 certified markets have these options. Local producers are also using tried-and-true low-tech roadside farm stands to sell seasonal favourites like berries and corn. Remember to only visit stands close to your home community, and to mask up and keep your distance if vendors or other customers are present.

Some communities have organized fun promotions to help boost local sales. For May and early June, the Downtown Truro Partnership and Town of Truro, for example, are giving away $250 in downtown dollars every Friday to folks who support small, local businesses while following public health protocols.

Not long ago it seemed like live arts performances were finally back, and tickets were eagerly purchased. Then the April lockdown happened with in-person performances either postponed (again) or cancelled.

If your budget permits, one way to show your love for the local arts community (a vital contributor to the Nova Scotia economy) is to hold on to those tickets. Instead of asking for a refund, consider your ticket an investment in the future of our province’s arts and culture.

Instead of ordering books from giant online retailers, reach out to your local bookstores to find out what safe shopping options exist. Some offer free local delivery and free curbside pick-up, and most will have a list of local authors, illustrators and publishers they have in stock.

Another safe way to support small shops of all kinds is to order gift cards from them. Local spas and salons also offer gift certificates, ideal for dreaming about post-lockdown pampering (and a perfect gift for a beloved teacher or new graduate).

When you need a break from meal prep and clean-up (and at this point who doesn’t), skip the national chains that will likely still be here post-pandemic. Spend your delivery or take-out dollars at a beloved local diner or café, and remember to tip big.

Missing your people? Show them you care by ordering treats from their favourite local vendors for curbside pick-up so you can make up custom care packages to leave at their doorsteps.

Personalized gift baskets could include items from a local soap producer, yarn store, cheese shop, craft brewery, bakery or chocolaterie. Even a bag of chips and some pop from the neighbourhood corner store can help brighten the day of a friend who is self-isolating while showing a little love for a small business in Nova Scotia.

How are you supporting the businesses in your community? Drop us a line in the comment section below.

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