The Walker family from Kalispell was in Cut Bank on Shop Small Saturday to celebrate Candi’s dad’s 80th birthday. Her family came from Havre to meet them half-way for a birthday lunch at the Big Sky Cafe. Pictured with Candi, left, are sons Jackson and Robert, back, and daughter Peyton. While visiting, the Walkers shared their neighbors in Kalispell are former Cut Bank residents, Bill and Metha Edens, and Candi’s babysitter while growing up was Teri Bickford, who works at Norman’s.

Small businesses have faced unprecedented challenges in 2020. As the COVID-19 pandemic wore on throughout the year, small businesses continued to confront the economic fallout wrought by the virus.

Though many businesses managed to hang on as the pandemic continued through spring, summer and fall, such businesses need their communities to continue to help them stay afloat.

Consumers have not been immune to the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. As consumers loosen their purse strings and begin spending more during the holiday season, they can embrace some unique ways to help small businesses in their community.

• Support struggling local businesses. Consumers may not typically give much thought to whether a local business  is struggling before spending their money, but doing so can help small businesses that have had an especially difficult time during the pandemic. 

Sales in the clothing and accessory and food services and drinking places industries were still down nearly 20 percent in July 2020. Supporting locally owned businesses in these industries can infuse some much-needed cash into their operations.

• Think twice before buying from big box online retailers. Amazon has become such a go-to consumer resource that many shoppers forget they can comparison shop right on Amazon.com

• Purchase gift cards. Pandemic-related restrictions have been lifted in many places, but that doesn’t necessarily mean consumers are confident enough to visit their favorite stores and restaurants in person. Gift cards can be a great way to support local businesses even if you’re still hesitant to patronize them in person.

Small businesses continue to face an uphill battle as they confront the economic fallout of the pandemic. Consumers are encouraged to show their support for locally owned businesses in their communities this holiday season…and always.

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