As we are entering week six of the lock-down here in Bavaria, we can look forward to some restrictions being lifted a little in the near future. But we are a long way off normality. And I am not sure we will or want to go back exactly to how things were six weeks ago. For my part: I love the clear blue skies, the fresher air and the lower levels of noise. I really enjoy seeing and hearing more wild-life on our daily walks. And I love seeing my fellow church members via zoom several times a week. This is a huge improvement compared to pre-pandemic attending church service once a month in Munich. But as a small business owner, I can't help but be worried. Will my business survive the storm? Will the small family businesses I order my embroidery supplies from, survive? Will my customers still have disposable income to spend on my products? That's why I decided to write a blog post on all the big and small things you can do to help small businesses during this pandemic and beyond!
As we cannot gather, find other ways to stay in touch with your favourite small businesses. Follow their social media channels and make sure to like, comment and share their posts. The algorithms favour posts that have a lot of social interaction. These posts get shown to more people and thus more potential customers! And best of all: this is a completely free way of supporting small businesses. If you don't already do so, please subscribe to my Instagram account and get linking, commenting and sharing. Equally: bought something from my webshop? or working on one of my patterns?: tag me. Thank you very much!
If your favourite small businesses offer digital newsletters: sign up to them! This is a great way to stay up to date with what is going on. And if Social Media is not your thing as you find it too time-consuming and interrupting; these newsletters can be opened and enjoyed when you want to! This is another great way to support small businesses for free. If you are not a subscriber yet, please follow this link to subscribe to my weekly newsletter (and get in the monthly draws for free embroidery threads!).
Many small businesses have used the past few weeks to come up with new-to-them digital ways of staying connected with their community. I've started a FlossTube channel for which I make short videos on my medieval embroidery. This is my latest video on my last finish. Please subscribe to my channel, like my videos and leave comments. The YouTube algorithm loves popular videos/channels and the more social interaction, the wider the reach, the more potential customers I can serve! Thank you very much for your support!
But, and I won't lie, it comes all down to this: buy from us regularly. As international parcel service is severely disrupted, please buy smaller items such as threads, my petite needlepoint kits, most goldwork supplies, fabric, needles and scissors which can easily be put in a padded envelope. Yes, they take longer to reach you, but let's face it: most of us aren't going anywhere soon :). And most small creative businesses have a variety of digital downloads for purchase as well! These don't require any shipping as you can instantly download the PDF. Please browse my collection of embroidery patterns (goldwork, stupwork, crewelwork and Schwalm whitework) or my eBooks on 17th-century silk embroidery from Tyrol and my latest one on the long-armed cross-stitch. Every purchase is very much valued and the survival of my business depends on it now that I can't teach embroidery!
And last, but not least: your support has a knock-on effect. Small business owners tend to shop with small businesses themselves! Not only do I mainly sell products from small family businesses, but when I shop for groceries, household items or clothing, I am almost only buying from independent small businesses. The only exception: cat food and cat litter. When we tried to use an organic brand from our local organic store, Timmie and Sammie were sure we were trying to not so subtly kill them :). Above you see my latest purchase: a hand broom made from wood and horsehair by the last surviving authentic brush/broom binder in Germany. I've been purchasing high-quality brooms and brushes from Volker Kees for years. He is a travelling craftsman and we usually meet at open-air fairs here in the South of Bavaria. He has no website, but can be contacted by email. As I was pretty sure that he struggles to sell his products now that all fairs have been cancelled, I sent him an email and a couple of days later this functional beauty arrived.
Supporting small businesses is something I have been firmly integrating into my life over the past few years. If you did not already do so: please take this pandemic as an excuse to start doing the same. You'll be surprised at how much impact your purchases have!
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