We live in troubling times. A virus managed to get us all indoors, working from home, eating at home, spending our free time at home. The first ones who started to feel our absence are the business that were actually bringing a ray of sunshine in our days – the small bookstore around the corner, the coffee shop where you also had brunch on Saturdays, the restaurant where you had your first date, the theatre that sparked so many feelings, and many others.

While there is no magic quick-fix for the economic distress happening at the moment, I do believe that we can (and we should) be close to the small businesses. Below I gathered 5 ideas, most of them inspired by what I’ve seen in Romania in the past days.


§ Buy a voucher that you will use later 

Buy today the coffee you will drink next season. And the book you will read during summer time. In my experience, vouchers / gift cards can be valid for 6-12 months, especially given the current circumstances (of course, check carefully before buying).

Bookstores that already have an online shop are most likely to offer vouchers – an example in Romania is Carturesti. But do ask the small bookstores, too – they might be willing to find a solution.

In Romania, a platform for buying vouchers at restaurants & coffee places was launched almost overnight – IaLoc.ro in Bucharest, Romania. Most gift cards have a small value (around 5 euro is the cheapest), so it is not a big investment for the future clients.

gift card

§ Order online and have the products delivered at your doorstep

Bookstores in China partnered with food delivery stored to deliver books at home. Coffee stores started delivering coffee bags (so you can brew your own coffee at home) – Reuben Hills from Sydney, Australia and Beans & Dots from Bucharest, Romania. Small brunch places started delivering its food for the first time – CPwHF from Bucharest, Romania.

All payments are online, products are left in front of your door – no interaction with any human being.

reuben hills australia

§ Offer as gift the voucher / books / food ordered online

If soon there’s the birthday of a good friend, how about surprising him/her with a delicious brunch & coffee and a good book? You know where you can find the celebrated one – at home 🙂

Speaking of gifts, some bookstores have the option to purchase a yearly subscription – they send a book every month, for a whole year. Examples are Heywood Hill and Foyles in the UK.

wrapped book watercolour foyles

§ Join online events

The scheduled events might transition to online events. For example, there’s an independent theatre in Bucharest – unteatru – that continued its performances and ensured live streaming for those who bought tickets (and they’re using this approach for future performances as well).

Training sessions and other cultural / learning events are also moving online, so there might actually be a good chance to brush up your skills and gain new knowledge. Check out the biggest Romanian music festival (George Enescu), the Metropolitan Opera from New York.

Sports training is also moving online – as long as you have a yoga mattress and internet connection, you can still do your usual workout with your class / instructor. Ask about this option!

online cultural events

§ Express your support

I know, it brings the least financial aid, and a good word does not help pay the rent. However, in these times of #socialdistancing I think communication via any channel is by no means useless – for example, sending a virtual hug or promoting online your favourite bookstore.

together_1000 holly maguire

How are you helping your local small businesses? If you have ideas that could be added to the list, please let me know!

‘Till next time … stay safe!


Images and illustrations from PNGFuel | Vecteezy | Reuben Hills | Foyles | Unteatru | Holly Maguire | Freepik | Vectorstock

4 thoughts on “How to support bookstores & other small businesses during #socialdistancing

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