FEATURES | By Aimee Jo Varela

Saving Local Business

The Ojai Arcade

The Ojai Arcade

The spread of the novel coronavirus has brought with it a new reality of physical distancing and isolating at home. All of us are in a period of adjustment, and we cannot be sure what the future holds, but in these trying times, one thing we can do is band together to get through this.

This means doing what we can to keep ourselves and our neighbors healthy and, for those who are able, it also means coming together to support the community so that we may come out stronger in the end. This may mean sewing masks, donating to food pantries, encouraging larger companies to take care of employees who cannot work, or bringing groceries to vulnerable neighbors.

For those who have expendable incomes that will not be significantly impacted in the coming months, another way to help is to support small, local businesses that are being affected right now.

Here are eight ways you can help:

1. Buy gift cards and gift certificates.

Purchase gift cards or certificates from restaurants, hotels, salons, yoga studios, and shops that you love. While you might not be able to use them now, this will provide some much-needed revenue to local business owners, and you will be able to use them once our period of isolation is over. You can also purchase gift cards to give to others for birthdays, holidays or thank you gifts.

2. Shop local online.

While you are stuck at home anyways, why not get some birthday and holiday gift shopping out of the way? Not all Ojai businesses have online shops, but some do and others are now considering it. Hop online to purchase gift certificates for wine tasting or local restaurants, clothing and jewelry from local boutiques, spa treatments for future visits, or maybe some special treats to make your isolation a bit more comfortable.

3. Order food for pickup or delivery.

Several restaurants in Ojai are offering food delivery or curbside pickup for prepared meals. This means you can still enjoy some delicious takeout and support local restaurants while isolating. If possible, tip extra.

If you are concerned about exposure from ordering pickup or delivery, do a quick Google search for best practices. There are several online posts about ordering and receiving prepared meals safely.

4. Maintain your current services.

If it is possible to continue your current services while maintaining physical distance and obeying shelter-in-place orders, this is an easy way to support the local businesses providing these services. Landscape maintenance, pool care, and pest control are examples of essential services that are allowed to continue under the current shelter-in-place order.

5. Hire local contractors.

Contractors and tradesmen also fall under essential services, so if there are home repair or improvement projects on your list, now might be a good time to hire out this work. Since you are isolating in your home, you probably do not want to do a major remodel on your primary residence, but if you have an unoccupied guest house, a second home you are not using, or exterior work that allows for safe distancing for both you and the contractor, this might be an opportunity to complete these repairs and give work to a local business.

To limit exposure for all parties, do as much as you can via phone or email, and discuss how you will maintain distance and sanitize surfaces during the job.

6. Pay ahead for services you cannot use right now.

If you are able, consider paying your regular service providers for future services. This might be your dog groomer, housekeeper, auto detailer, or dog walker. While you might not be able to use their services right now, paying for a few future services will help them make it through this tough time.

7. Support local farmers.

The weekly farmers market behind the Arcade is still offering fresh, locally grown produce every weekend, so stop by Sundays between 9:00am and 1:00pm to restock your fridge and support local farmers. There are also several CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) programs where you can sign up for a weekly box of local produce.

While their produce might not always be from local sources, you can support local grocery stores by stocking up at Westridge or Rainbow Bridge. Ojai Food Taxi also offers grocery delivery from these grocers if you would rather stay at home. 

8. Look for creative opportunities to support local businesses and your well-being.

While you have some extra time on your hands, look for ways to promote your family’s well-being while also supporting local businesses. For example, while Bart’s Books is technically closed, there are still books on the exterior bookshelves and a slot in the door where you can drop payment. So, you can find books to enjoy during isolation while contributing at least a few coins to the local economy.

Or, another option, is to look for yoga studios and similar businesses offering classes online while the studios are closed.

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