We all know small businesses are suffering. Even before the pandemic, it was important to support small businesses, especially those in your local towns. Now it’s more vital than ever. Speaking to business owners and reading articles, I’ve rounded up some reasons why we should take action to support small businesses.

Small local businesses are the heart of towns. They give us color and a sense of community. They are the ones that create a relationship with their customers. Think about when you walk into your local diner, coffee shop, or mom and pop store. When you go often enough, you create a relationship that carries beyond the actual transaction.

Small businesses give back to their communities. They often support local teams, local fundraisers, local animal shelters, and more with donations. In turn, if a small business donates to any local cause, I hope the people involved shop there as a reciprocal action.

Small local businesses make up our streets and towns. When they go out of business, we often lament about “another empty building in town.” But did we do all we can to support them? No one wants empty shops. Take action with your dollars to support them.

Small businesses are your friends. The mom friend in a direct sales business. The friend who creates art and sells at craft fairs or on Etsy. The traveling hairdresser in your town. The couple that owns a local art studio and hosts classes. If a friend has a small business, we need to support them. More often than not, you are helping a local family pay their mortgage, their child’s sports, and securing their future. I choose this as often as I can, over helping a CEO of a large company pay for their vacation homes and private jets. If you opened a local business, wouldn’t you love your friends and acquaintances to support you?

Shopping at farmers’ markets and farms, rather than grocery stores, is not only supportive of your local businesses, it brings you farm-fresh fruit and vegetables, often organic. They haven’t traveled far and wide to land on a shelf in a large store. This is local at it’s best! The hard work of the local farming team offering homegrown goods can’t be beaten. This also leaves a much smaller carbon footprint—so it’s good for you, good for the community, and good for the planet.

Small businesses foster the local economy. They keep money close to home. They create jobs for local people, both as owners and the employees they hire. If you want to support your local economy, shop local, and shop small.

You can also support small businesses by liking their social media pages and sharing with friends. I learned of a local take-out restaurant when a friend posted that she had gotten some amazing food there. I went to the page, liked, and followed. The next time I was in that town, I made sure to stop in and I got some excellent Greek soup and salad! Sharing is key to help small businesses, especially since they often can’t afford expensive advertising. Like and share folks … it’s the least we can do.

We all want convenience and some of us have fallen into the fast action of one-click online ordering. While that is okay for items you can’t find locally, it’s smart to be aware that the few minutes more you will take to shop locally makes a huge difference in lives and the local community. Our online ordering on huge sites does nothing for our towns. When we think before we shop, it can make a world of difference.

Soon, many of us will start our holiday shopping. Keep in mind that this year, more than ever, shopping local is what will help get our economy back strong. It will prevent closures. Gift certificates to local shops and restaurants are thoughtful. Purchase products at small local stores and from crafting moms and direct sales moms. Let’s all think local and shop small as often as we can.