Why {And How} It’s Critical To Support Small Businesses in New Orleans

There’s no doubt that we are all anxious about COVID-19, the potential implications for our families and what the next few months will look like. If your partner or family member is in medicine, you’re likely concerned about their physical and mental well-being. If, like many Louisiana families, your income depends on the oil and gas industry, you’re likely nervous about job security. If you have small children, you’re probably nervous about having them home indefinitely. Make no mistake about it; COVID-19 will absolutely affect us all in one way or another. That is why it is imperative that we join together to support the hundreds of small businesses that make New Orleans special right now.

Why {And How} It’s Critical To Support Small Businesses in New Orleans

Let’s start with an example we know extremely well. New Orleans Mom itself is a small, woman-owned business. Our goal is to make life easier for parents who live, work and play in New Orleans. We publish online content (which is 100% free to our readers and we always intend to keep it that way) daily. We produce resources for families, like the Summer Camp Guide and Guide to Preschools & Daycares. We hope these things make a parent’s life easier here. Many people don’t realize this, but we have 10+ women on staff, all of whom are paid hourly, and we – like all small businesses – have operating expenses to ensure that our website is free and open to all 24/7. Because of COVID-19, we ourselves have had to postpone our annual Easter Egg Hunt, which, while sad, is also the right, responsible and ethical thing to do. So let’s take that example and magnify it.

Imagine you are the face painter who we had hired for next weekend’s event. Our event is one of dozens that has been postponed (or cancelled). You may or may not have taken a deposit, but you likely have purchased enough paint (or added to your supply) and invested time in blocking your calendar, looking at new possible designs and lined up transportation. Imagine you are the DJ. You, too, have had multiple events cancelled or postponed and are now looking at a blank calendar … pretty much an entertainer or artists’s nightmare if that is how you make your living. Imagine you are the company that delivers cardboard trashcans or port-o-lets. That work has now vaporized. POOF. Gone. We are in the heart of the busiest event and festival season in New Orleans, a time when local entertainers and artists make a bulk of their income.

Imagine you are the restaurant or small business owner that lines a parade route. Instead of getting ready for thousands of parade-goers this weekend, you are looking at your financial projections and wondering how you will meet payroll and overhead. It is likely you had placed orders with distributors for food and alcohol; you probably need to cancel those lest you get stuck with 567 bags of frozen fries you won’t be serving. The delivery drivers won’t be working overtime this week (or next), and the waitstaff won’t be hustling amidst the merriment for tips.

Imagine you are the local toy shop that has inventory ready for Easter baskets. Imagine you are the local nail shop that is used to being slammed at this time of year as women get ready for galas and fundraisers and other festivities. Imagine you are the seafood restaurant used to cooking up big business on Fridays during Lent. Imagine you are the housekeeper at a now vacant hotel. Imagine you are the dishwasher at name-your-restaurant in New Orleans. Imagine you are the teacher who picks up extra cash tutoring in the afternoons. Imagine you are a Disney Travel Agent with 20+ families no longer traveling over Spring Break. These are your neighbors. These are your fellow New Orleanians. This affects everyone.

So What Can You Do?

Don’t Panic. Everyone has skin in the game. And I do mean everyone. Instead of racing around asking the baker who was meant to do your child’s birthday cookies for a refund, let it be for a minute. The baker likely cleared her schedule, stocked up on sugar and flour and was counting on that business. We can go back and forth on what the “right” thing to do is, but I do believe as a small business owner myself that MOST small business hustle and invest a lot on the front end, only to be left holding the issue when people panic. Give the baker the benefit of the doubt. Re-route those funds to a future party or holiday. Let the dust settle. Panic cancelling only makes someone else’s life more stressful. This affects everyone.

Support Local Where Possible. There are many local businesses that are still open as of today and/or will be open in the coming weeks. While Costco is tempting (I love it myself), they are also out of toilet paper 90% of the time right now. Remember your local groceries like Zuppardo’s or Canseco’s or Langenstein’s. Amazon is also very temping, but some local stores like Little Pnuts are also open if you need entertainment for your kids in the coming weeks. Katie’s Restaurant shared with us that they are offering delivery in the coming weeks. Keep the small grocery stores, restaurants and shops in mind when spending your money in the coming weeks to help alleviate their stress. This affects everyone.

Purchase Gift Certificates. A local mom shared this idea, and I love it. If your budget can afford to do so, now is a great time to buy LOCAL gift certificates for future use. Your children will still have birthdays this year, and Christmas will eventually be here. If you have the funds to do so, now is not a bad time to “get ahead” where you can. I understand this is not realistic for everyone, but if your family has the means, supporting small businesses in the coming weeks will mean a lot to your community. This affects everyone.

Be Kind. If you feel yourself getting worked up or frustrated, walk away. Put down your phone, close the computer or turn off the TV. Everyone is anxious. Everyone is worried. Everyone has spent money on an event or swim lesson or baseball tournament that is now cancelled or postponed. Rather than firing off a nasty email, leaving a mean comment for a small business or saying something you might regret, walk away. Remember that – with a little bit of luck – this, too, shall pass. We will not always be living amidst such uncertainty. We fought through Katrina and we will fight through this. Be kind. Remember that absolutely every one of us has something at stake. Don’t make hard times harder. Get some fresh air, meditate, whatever. Just be kind. This affects everyone.

Look Ahead. When this is behind us, and it will be behind us, make a real effort to shop local. Support your neighbors. The future of their businesses – and the health of our city – depends on it. This affects everyone.

If you know of a small business offering services that will help during COVID-19, please leave a comment below!

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Ashley is the Co-Owner of New Orleans Mom, Red Stick Mom and Lafayette Mom, now the largest network of parenting websites in South Louisiana. Proud graduates of the University of Virginia, she and her husband Blaise spent time in Tampa and Scottsdale prior to settling down back home in New Orleans, something they both said "would never happen." An avid runner, she'll try any workout at least once and is always up for sweating with friends. When she’s not shuttling her 3 very active kids to school, gymnastics or baseball, you can find her cheering for the Saints, trying new restaurants or spending time with family and friends. She's also not afraid to return mediocre books to the library before finishing them because life is too short for bad books. A native New Orleanian, Ashley loves exploring and discovering the beauty of South Louisiana through her growing children's eyes.

9 COMMENTS

  1. All About Me is here for retail therapy to keep all the mommas sane and feeling good! We are offering curbside pick up and free shipping! Check out our insta and Facebook @allaboutmestyle
    #shopsmall
    Thanks for the support Nola Mom!

  2. Social Graces NOLA for any graphic design, content creation, social media management, or marketing needs that may be up in the air with employee and intern displacement.

  3. Symmetry Jewelers uptown is offering free shipping and free local delivery. We know that special occasions still happen and need to be celebrated. Shop online or in the store. We are sanitizing constantly. We are also committed to our staff and will pay through sick days or closures. We love our city and can’t wait to get back to normal! ❤️❤️❤️

  4. Garden District Book Shop is open we are working on ways to offer free local delivery and we have curbside pickup. Keep an eye on our social media for details.

  5. The Bead Shop is open.
    We are a locally owned, woman owned, mother owned and mother supportive shop.

    We are cleaning our space non stop (because we care!) and we have expanded our offerings to include:
    -FaceTime shopping.
    – Free local delivery of $50
    Or more
    – gloved curbside delivery for those who know what they want and just pull up outside our shop.

    We proudly support many local schools, programs and charities throughout the year and we could definitely use your support during these questionable days. I think about my employees n on stop and how to keep us alive enough to keep their hours where they want them to be. (And yes we have paid sick days!)
    ❤️
    I know we all have a lot going on… so I thank you so much for even thinking of this issue right now and trying to support local businesses. My neighbor Home Malone – Magazine St is awesome too!
    Please follow us on FB and Insta to keep up with us ❤️

  6. NOLA Craft Culture in Mid City (127 S Solomon St) is locally and women owned and is offering a Crafty Drive Thru starting Monday 03/16 – a great option for families practicing social distancing but who need some craft supplies to keep their kids creatively engaged while they’re home from school!

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