7 Easy Ways to Safely Support Local Food Businesses this Winter

Winter is coming and, with it, local food businesses are bracing for impact. As we cozy up and stay safe at home, our beloved restaurants and shops are navigating the need to pivot, yet again. “There’s an upcoming season of hustling hard, reinventing, celebrating small joys, and unfortunately, suffering some substantial losses,” says Lauren Bloom of Blom Meadworks in Ann Arbor. 

The coming months aren’t going to be easy and supporting each other is going to be more important than ever. As customers and community members, we can show our support to the businesses that make where we live vibrant and unique in a variety of forms. And this support doesn’t need to be in person, or be monetarily based, to be impactful. Challenge yourself to commit weekly to one of the following opportunities to bring joy to yourself while helping our critical small businesses survive:

1. Get Social

Follow your favorite local businesses on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok or Twitter. Like, share or comment on their posts. Invite your friends to follow them. Need ideas on who to follow? Check out Taste the Local Difference’s Instagram feed and Facebook page.

2. Write a Review

Have something great to say about the restaurant down the street? Love the online shopping experience at your local grocer? Drop them a review on Google, Yelp, or their Facebook page. This encourages others to give the business a try!

3. Send a Personal Note

Times are hard for all of us and kind words are sorely needed, especially if you own a small business. Share your appreciation and encouragement for your local businesses via email or snail mail and don’t expect a reply.

4. Visit Safely

Many restaurants, shops, grocers and other businesses are open and have adapted to provide COVID safe experiences. (Click here for the details of the latest epidemic order) If you feel safe, visit in person. It’s impossible to name them all, but here are some fun examples of adaptations around the state:

Iron Fish Distillery’s (Thompsonville) #basecampironfish . Sign us up for cozy whiskey sipping in those cute tents!

Speciation Ales (Grand Rapids) Cultured Club Membership – It includes 12 exclusive batches of wild ales, natural wine and craft seltzers, and discounts at their taproom and heated patio. 

Barrel + Beam (Marquette) has their online store up and running for curbside beer pickup, including a newly added Canteen of local products.

Chamberlin’s Ole Forest Inn is a remote UP lodge in the middle of the EUP. They’ve switched to carry-out only for the next few weeks, including a great menu for Thanksgiving to-go!

Austin Brothers Beer Company’s (Alpena) heated patio goes great with a blanket and takeout from a local restaurant.

• Find your Dome sweet Dome at East Eats (Detroit), a tiny COVID safe, outdoor dining experience on the Eastside.

5. Shop Early & Shop Online

Many local businesses have added or updated their e-commerce sites, so it’s easier than ever to get your favorite local food and drink products delivered right to your doorstep. Check out some of our favorites in our Michigan Local Gift Guide!

6. Order Take Out

Tired of cooking? Miss your favorite fancy cocktail? Get takeout from your favorite restaurant or try someplace new! Many restaurants have added takeout, curbside pick up and delivery options this year. Plus, restaurants can sell their signature cocktails, wine, beer, and pantry items to go now too! Re-plate the food when you get it home, put on your favorite record and voilà! – instant date night.

7. Give (or Get) a Gift Card

Whether you need to do some holiday shopping, aren’t ready to venture out, or are looking for things to look forward to, gift cards are a great fit. And, bonus, many places that didn’t offer these before the pandemic now do.

Whatever action you choose to take, thank you for supporting small businesses! And please remember to be patient and kind. These are heavy, hard times for all of us so give others, and yourself, some grace. 

Taking any of the above actions? Tag us on social media (@tastethelocaldifference) to show how you #tastethelocaldifference, #shoplocal and #supportsmall .

Kelly Wilson, RDN is TLD’s Director of Community Partners. She is based in Ypsilanti, Michigan and is looking forward to eating all the take out this winter in front of her new wood burning stove.