Students Support Small Businesses Affected by COVID-19

Organizations assist to prevent closures


Submitted by: Emily Anderson

Wuollet Bakery is one of the many local businesses Emily Anderson ‘22 shops at in her community as a way to show support and gratitude during these challenging times.

Shira Aronow and Anna Johns

Small businesses are struggling during the pandemic, but Blake students supporting these local gems offer insight into how community members can help.

Taara Verma ’24, an intern for Coimatan, describes the effort as, “An organization that is working to connect people to small businesses using our platform. We are trying to make the shopping experience easier for people to support the small businesses in their community and to just make them more accessible for people.” Verma explains, “Throughout the pandemic, a lot of business owners have been struggling to keep their doors open and to pay their employees.”

I live in Minneapolis, and there are a ton of small businesses specifically on my block I have definitely seen [fewer] people going to those stores,” says Solveig Bingham ’21. Binghamís family friends own Great Harvest Bread Company, and she was surprised to hear that their business has instead increased over the past months because stores like Target suffered from shortages of staple foods like bread.

However, not all businesses have received the same surge in revenue. Verma explains, “It is really sad to see [some of these businesses], which have been here a really long time, are closing just because they canít afford to keep paying their bills.”

Bingham references community action taken in the summer, adding, “After the murder of George Floyd, I saw a booming in promotion for small businesses owned by BIPOC people and families I really valued seeing people trying to support these small businesses.”

Vermaís family personally took action, as she mentions, “We’ve had the privilege to be able to support [our favorite restaurants].” With restrictions tightening up again, Verma also mentions a number of wider actions being taken by non-governmental organizations, like the Neighbors United Funding Collaborative, that are continuing to provide businesses with support.

Elle McCarty ’21, president of Blakeís DECA chapter, a global organization educating students on entrepreneurship, explains ways for students to become involved. McCarty explains that DECA is hosting online events this year for students to learn about topics, such as marketing in COVID-19. McCarty is also taking personal action and encourages others to do the same. She states, “I generally do go to smaller vendors and [purchase from] unique artists.” McCarty offers some advice, “The biggest obstacle for small businesses is exposure because oftentimes there will be really cool businesses making really cool products and people just wonít know about it Ask your friends if they know any cool little shops you can go to for Christmas gifts instead of Target.”

Verma references the positive days ahead, mentioning, “I think that there is definitely a sense of optimism in ways that [small businesses] can cope with this but there is a lingering fear for many of them that they are on the verge of closure and just breaking even.”