Sweat beads on your forehead which is hot with anxiety. You franticly scour the web, heart racing in your hoodie while in home quarantine. You think you are making responsible healthy choices by online panic shopping in these times of social distancing, but I’m writing this to tell you the healthy thing to do is to shop local at your savvy small businesses.
Yes, we need to take the Covid-19 virus seriously, and act responsibly to prevent more devasting spread of this deadly pandemic. We don’t want the virus to kill the community. So don’t kill your community. Stay Calm and Shop Local. Savvy small business owners are helping you do it too.
Look to Midwest Beauty House, a vivacious salon with two locations in Madison, WI. They proactively communicated on social media and in an e-newsletter the many ways they are stepping up safety precautions so the salon can stay open.
“All of this being said, WE ARE A BABY BUSINESS and our little family doesn’t get paid if we don’t perform beauty services! This is a very stressful time for everyone. If you are able to work from home and your income will not be affected, we ask that you think about purchasing gift cards designated to a specific stylist or pre-paying for your next appointment to help us pay our staff living wages during this time,” Alice Ezrow, owner of Midwest Beauty House.
Ezrow has every right to speak up for small business. According to U.S. Senator Ron Johnson, small businesses account for 99% of all Wisconsin companies, and 1.2 million employees. Looking at that number, it’s not a stretch to say that pretty much everyone you’re avoiding to physically contact is somehow impacted by small business.
You’re reading the headlines. “Small businesses could crumble in 45 days…” “Coronavirus Cost to Businesses and Workers: ‘It Has All Gone to Hell.'” “Small Businesses Hurting From Coronavirus Closures.” “Small Business Owners Tapping into Personal Savings, (401)K…” Don’t feel powerless. Restaurants can still provide pick-up and delivery services. Check it out.
Also in Madison, a local beloved restaurant, Banzo, designed a delicious “Take & Bake Family Meal!” to purchase online for delivery or pickup only. For only $45 they package up a meal that feeds three to five people with their customer favorites: falafel, kebabs, hummus and pita bread, chopped salad, Majadra rice, tahini and other sauces.
“We’re just doing our best to provide a service and keep jobs, as long as we can do it safely,” Aaron Collins and Netalee Sheinman, owners of Banzo Madison.
This social distancing is to keep us healthy, right? But how healthy is it? How healthy is anxiety and panic and isolation? Smart women entrepreneurs in the health and wellness industry remind us that this community caring and self help stuff is nothing to sneeze (or cough) at.
“In this period of uncertainty it’s more important than ever before to do a couple of things: One: support local. They needs us so bad right now! Two: keep your immune system strong! Chiropractic can help so much with that which is why we are staying open for as long as they’ll let us,” states Dr. Broecker. She continues, “Three: manage your mindset and your stress levels. This all will pass but we must take care of ourselves and our community during all this craziness.”
“Craziness” is not healthy. You’re reading everyone’s panicked posts on social media with increasing reactions like Sad Face and Angry Face. Friends are posting photos standing in major big box stores with empty shelves where toilet paper, hand sanitizer, hand soap, and rubbing alcohol used to be. You don’t have to. The healthy reaction is to practice pause. Pause and practice healthy actions.
Pause is exactly what The Studio Madison is offering online for their usual customers and anyone else in the world. They closed their doors but brought the yoga and daily guided mediation online by making videos.
“Communities need to band together and support, support support. I see it happening all around me in this city and it is such a beautiful thing to witness,” says Kathleen Slattery-Moschkau, a filmmaker, talk show host, and now yoga studio owner.
Jodi Rose Gonzales, a published author, artist, art therapist, yoga teacher and coach, shares her thoughts on wellness in these interesting times. “As a wellness educator I would recommend that people get outside and start moving. Social distancing, after all, does not mean isolation.”
She teaches art therapy out of her own office, and has just added services to the yoga division of Spa at Sacred Grounds in Sister Bay, a village that just recently announced a State of Emergency. You’ll see many yoga studios offering online classes and guided meditation now. You can also unplug to connect.
“Isolation can trigger depression and a host of mental heath issues. Connection heals. Do anything that reminds you, in a positive way, that you are part of something greater than yourself,” Gonzales says. She goes on to advise that we take walks, take in nature, observe the bodies of water nearby, pay attention to the beauty the sky has to offer at any moment of the day, and reflect on the impermanence of things. Nature teaches us that things move on.
Gonzales continues, “Movement will help your body metabolize stress hormones that can accumulate if you are sitting around, taking in too much screen time, and experiencing worry and fear.”
On the move is exactly what many service industries have had to adopt to keep the revenue streaming in and keep health safety in check, all in the name of community. Take Novel Bay Booksellers in Sturgeon Bay, WI. They decided to close their doors but offer, can you believe this, a delivery service for customers in the 54235 zip code. They’re also offering a $1 shipping fee for anyone else in the nation. One dollar.
“We started the bookstore to create a place for people to share their love for books, to gather in a safe place and relax among friends,” explains Liz Welter, co-owner of Novel Bay Booksellers. “In these unsettling times, we want to do àll that we can to get books to people. Together, our community can get through this. We’re shopping local to support our neighbors, our friends, our community. We need to work together.”
You hear the theme, right? You’ll hear it again from Fred And Shawna Young, owners of Young Automotive and 5th and Jefferson Coffee Shop. They are offering online payments to reduce inperson cash transactions and curbside delivery or pickup.
“We are taking the position of safety first as we provide for our employees and customers. This will in turn create continued sustainability to our businesses. We know very much how important both 5th and Jefferson and Young Automotive are to our community,” state the Youngs.
How important is the big box store to you versus your fellow neighbor who cuts hair, steams up cappuccino, adjusts your spine, helps you through childhood trauma, fixes your car, serves their grandmother’s family falafel recipe, or delivers your escape from reality with a fabulous book of fiction? How healthy is it to obssess over the drama queens on social media rather than taking your canine child for a long walk in the woods or by the water? It’s all in taking a moment to question your actions.
I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. I’m an insurance agent by day. I’m used to meeting referral partners out for lunch, reviewing policies with clients over coffee. Thank goodness I can work from home as long as I have a laptop and internet. And I gotta say, having a cat on my lap and a couple dogs on my feet while I work is cozy, but I know that my favorite coffee shops, hair salons, and book stores aren’t getting a dime from me sitting in the recliner in my sweats. So I vow to buy gift cards at a Wisconsin small business for every policy I sell during the quarantine. Heck, I’ll even buy coffee for my prospects who schedule a virtual meeting with me to go over an insurance proposal. Lunch for life insurance applications. Why not? We’re all small businesses here. The buck stops with us. And just because our office doors are closed doesn’t mean we don’t need revenue streaming in. We can still act as a healthy part of our community.
Gonzales put it well. “This is a community where people are acutely aware that they are part of something larger than themselves. We are tight knit. Find a way to help out a friend or neighbor.” She goes on to help us ask ourselves the healthy questions. “Focus on the positive, and ask yourself, what can I do today that really matters? What do I need? What can I do to help myself or my family feel more connected?”
So tell me. What are you going to do now?
– Laura Beck Nielsen