5 Unconventional Ways to Support Small Businesses

December 17, 2020

It’s no secret that small businesses have been struggling and shuttering amidst the first global pandemic of our lifetime. By now you’ve all seen the memes telling you how to support small businesses without spending money. You know the ones.

Here are a few more ways you can support your favourite small businesses that perhaps aren’t as obvious.

1) Order Directly

Whether it’s food or retail, order directly from the seller whenever possible. Restaurants have taken an especially big hit this year with the elimination of indoor dining. Apps like Uber Eats, Door Dash, and Skip the Dishes are convenient, but they take a big cut from an already-slim profit margin.

Order directly for pick-up when you can. Liberty Garden Chinese Restaurant here in Parkdale offers a 10% discount when you pay in cash. Do I know this because I’ve ordered from there three times in the last month? Don’t you judge me.

Here’s a handy list of 40 restaurants in Toronto that provide their own delivery.

2) Pay With Debit or Cash

The ability to offer payment by credit card can come with a hefty fee. My point-of-sale system, Square, takes a minimum 2.65% cut of the total charge from all credit card payments. Interac payments, on the other hand, cost just $0.10 per transaction no matter the purchase cost. Some days I’ll spend $25 on credit card fees alone. That fee could be slashed to $0.50 if everyone paid with debit.

Don’t get me wrong; Credit card fees are just a cost of doing business and I’m happy to provide my clients with anything that makes their experience with me more convenient, but there’s a special place in my heart for people who choose to pay with debit or cash.

3) Spread the Word (Strategically)

By now you all know that it helps small businesses when you like, share, and comment on their social media posts. We truly appreciate every bit of interaction we get on our posts.

Sharing a company’s website to your personal wall is great, but I’m willing to bet your Aunt Mabel in Missouri isn’t all that interested in hearing about the store on your street that sells ugly Christmas sweaters for dogs.

You know what’s even better than telling your friends about a business you love? Telling your neighbours. If a small business has a physical location, spreading the word to local community Facebook groups can be explosive.

I recently shared a rave review of a local restaurant to a community Facebook group that resulted in several people ordering from there that night. Was it Liberty Garden Chinese Restaurant? Yes. Yes, it was.

4) Leave a Review

Ok, so this one’s a little obvious, but it bears repeating…

Have you ever had a pleasant experience with a small business? Leave a revieeeew!

My home massage studio didn’t even appear on Google Maps until I started getting Google reviews. Now that I’m the highest-rated massage therapist in Parkdale, people find me on Google all the time. A positive review on Google or Yelp can put somebody on the map (literally!). It also helps businesses rank higher in search engines, and that’s a very good thing.

Did you read a book recently that you loved? Leave a positive review on Amazon, even if that’s not where you bought the book. Reviews help other people find our products and services, and they lend us credibility. The marketing term for this phenomenon is social proof. It’s a powerful tool.

Not sure what to write? No problem. You don’t need to write anything at all if you don’t want to. A simple click on the five stars is perfectly sufficient. Go on, get clicking!

5) Be Patient

This one is the most important. Small business owners are busy, tired, and overworked during the holidays. The pandemic adds undue stress to an already-hectic time of year. We’re more prone to making mistakes. We’re only human, after all.

Have compassion if your order doesn’t arrive on time or the barista misspells your name. We’re doing the best we can with what we’ve got, and this year, a lot of us haven’t got much.

And maybe don’t yell at people over cookies.


The best way to show your support for small businesses this year? Buy something! Gift certificates for massages can be purchased online here. Add this to your own wish list while you’re at it.


  1. Great tips and advice. There are so many amazing restaurants in my neighbourhood, I always arrange to pick it up. It gives me an excuse to get out for a walk, too!

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