Supporting Small Businesses

Whenever we travel, we make a conscious effort to visit as many independently owned small businesses as we can. We believe in fully embracing ourselves in the culture; dining at local restaurants, and shopping at unique stores. Supporting small businesses is a great way to appreciate the destination and have authentic travel experiences.

The Effects of COVID-19 on Small Businesses

Since the COVID-19 shutdowns took effect, many businesses are closed until further notice, others have reduced hours, some have altered how they do business to try and stay afloat, and others have had to let staff go to cut costs. What breaks our hearts most is hearing of small businesses that are closing permanently as a result of the effects of “stay at home” orders and shutdowns. I read an article with scary projections that something like over 50% of independent restaurants and small businesses will not survive the closures. That will be another tragic loss from this coronavirus.

As lovers of travel, staying put is the last thing we want to do. However, we are embracing physical distancing because we believe it’s the right thing to do for the greater good during the Covid-19 pandemic. Social distancing does not mean you can’t get out and have some fun (unless you are under shelter in place legislation). There are some ways you can still get out of the house and enjoy a day out. Supporting small businesses is a great way to give back, help your community, and also explore your local areas as you discover new places to buy food for your family.

Supporting Small Businesses, Locally

Every weekend, Roguetrippers take little day trips to different communities and shop at local farm markets, bakeries, dairies, and other independent food producers to get items to fill our fridge and freezer. Instead of spending all of our grocery budgets at big corporate stores, we have turned our focus on supporting small businesses during these difficult times.

Read: Covid-19: Tourism in the time of a Pandemic HERE

We are fortunate that we live in the very food-rich area of Ontario’s agricultural hub. The communities of Guelph-Wellington, Brant, Oxford, and Perth Counties are all within an hour from us, making it very convenient for us to visit regularly.  We have always enjoyed visiting many of the farms and markets in these communities, but now we are making it our top priority. There are plenty of little places to visit, and we are always discovering new ones using Agricultural maps provided by the various counties. These farms and local food producers are still open during the pandemic. They have changed the way they do business, for sure, but they are open and creating their farm-fresh items, ready to cook meals, frozen meals, fresh baked goods, amazing dairy products, and craft beer & spirits for you to buy.



Tips for Supporting Small Businesses

  • Visit their websites, social media platforms for updates on how they are doing business
  • Plan your weekly grocery shopping so you can focus on supporting small businesses, farm markets, local bakeries, meat and dairy producers
  • Order ahead online or by phone for curbside pickup, where you can.
  • Before you head out, check with your family, friends, and neighbours who are unable to get out, to see if they need anything to save them the trouble.
  • In addition to purchasing their preserved and frozen items, we always buy some fresh food, to help cut down on their food waste. Food waste = loss of revenue.
  • Consider purchasing gift certificates to use later.
  • Pay more for your items than they ask (where you can).
  • Buy more than you need, and share your bounty with friends, family, or neighbours.
  • TIP TIP TIP – We consider ourselves decent tippers at all times, but during this pandemic, we are tipping more than usual. If a shop has a tipping option on their POS system, give them an unexpected bonus.
  • Strike up a conversation with the small business employees/owners and let them know you support them.
  • Focus on buying items that are as local as possible. Stick to the 100 km or less rule.

Supporting Small Businesses Using Social Media

  • Check in to the business on Social Media platforms when you visit, to let your followers know the shop is open.
  • Post photos of your purchases on social media so people can see the range of items they can buy there.
  • Follow these small markets, bakeries, and food producers on Social media, so you know about specials, current offerings, and updates on hours.
  • Don’t forget to comment, Like, and Share their posts as well for further reach.
  • Write a (positive) review of the business on social media (Facebook, Google, TripAdvisor, Yelp, etc.) to let people know how good it is.
  • Ask your friends and family on social media where their favourite small businesses are, to discover places you haven’t been to before.
                          • Increasing social media engagement will help get the business more attention. We found an amazing bakery market that we had never heard of before because a friend commented on their post. 

For ideas on ideas for supporting small businesses
Check out our articles on Perth County and Hamilton Wentworth

Stay Safe while supporting small businesses

  • Wash your hands often
  • Bring hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes with you and use them before and after visiting the shops
  • Avoid crowded areas or small stores that have inadequate safety practices in place
  • Follow 6-foot social distancing rules
  • Wear a face mask
  • follow the official Government Health websites for updated Covid-19 information

Say Thank you

They are struggling, even if they don’t show it. A little kindness will go a long way to making their day. Let them know how much you appreciate what they do. We are thankful that we have so many fabulous local farms and food businesses that are there to supply us with locally grown and prepared foods.

I have seen a lot of posts on social media, suggesting that ‘when this is over – keep your business local’. Why wait? I challenge that everyone put their money back into the community NOW and support small businesses in your area. The big box stores will be here when this pandemic ends, but your independent food producer, market, bakery, brewery, or cidery might not. Help them now.

Get out of the house, go for a little day trip and support the small businesses that make our communities great.

Good Things Grow in Ontario!

Don’t forget to follow Roguetrippers on Instagram and Facebook for more Small business inspiration


Adventurer, gastro-tourist, avid road tripper, and butter tart aficionado. Exploring the road less travelled and the adventures that exist for all to see if you open yourself up to new possibilities. Greg and his husband Nick are residents of Guelph, and their greatest joys in life are exploring the world around them. Road trips with no real destination are a favourite past time. Get off the beaten path and discover somewhere they have never been before. Sometimes the best vacations are the ones you don't really plan. Life is about the journey together and not the destination.

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