November is always an interesting month for a business, as with the exception of a few well-organised folks buying in advance of the December rush, it’s mostly a bit slow while the majority of people bide their time to make purchases closer to the holiday season. This year is not a normal one, though, and the pandemic and many businesses find themselves either closed yet again or with severe restrictions on their operations for the near future.
Thankfully, there has been a great deal of national conversation about supporting Irish businesses, by choosing shop locally instead of ordering from multi-national online services or big box retailers, and curated lists abound on social media and in newspapers. Not only does this ensure these small businesses, run by your neighbours, acquaintances and family members, continue to operate and employ people, but that money also flows back into the community they live and work in, through their own spending and contributions to local teams, schools, organisations and events.
Luckily for us in Mayo, well over 200 businesses have signed up to the VoucherMe website, where you can purchase a voucher for a specific business, or a group voucher that can be used at nearly all of the participating businesses. In addition to being a great gift, buying vouchers now also helps businesses see that their services are appreciated by their community and may help them better weather this uncertain period, so I encourage you to consider this option for the holidays.
Another important way to support businesses you love is to engage with them on social media, to follow their feeds and share their messages so that others can find out about them. Word of mouth and online recommendations are very important ways for potential customers to find out about cafes, restaurants, services and all kinds of retail shops they might love, so those likes, shares, comments and reviews do add up. Plus, they serve to keep morale high when things feel bleak—everyone loves to read nice messages.
For everyone this November is set to be bleaker than normal, as the evenings are darker, we’re limited to a short radius from our homes, and we are unsure if we can count on the festive season that we normally look forward to in December. In our house we have decided that we can’t wait to treat ourselves, but that we need things to brighten up our lives now. We love to eat delicious food that we don’t always have to cook for ourselves, so we are keeping our eyes on all the local cafes, restaurants and bakeries that have pivoted to offer takeaway meals and treats on a limited basis. It takes a bit more planning to order in advance, but the menus are available online and we choose at least one per week to support in a bigger way, with a full meal, sides and dessert, and it gives us a lot to look forward to.