Zoom calls have become commonplace, working in your sweatpants is totally acceptable, and birthday parades are the latest trend. Adapting to the novel coronavirus has changed the way we communicate with one another and the world around us. As the world hunkers down, independent and locally-owned businesses are feeling the shift to social distancing.

While stringent social distancing policies and event cancellations are a safety priority to slow the spread of COVID-19, the coronavirus crisis is heavily impacting small businesses striving to stay afloat. From Houston’s hottest restaurants to locally-owned boutiques, businesses have either temporarily closed or shifted to a pick-up-only approach.

Following the local and national recommendations for social distancing is the right thing to do, but that doesn’t mean you have to cut yourself off from your favorite businesses. There is comfort in indulging in your favorite pastry from Common Bond, getting your regular order at Boomtown Coffee, picking up a cabernet from Mutiny Wine Room, and snagging a houseplant to keep you company from Buchanan’s Native Plants. Supporting local businesses in a safe way allows us to maintain a sense of routine and normalcy from our pre-coronavirus days.

Governor Greg Abbott has laid out a plan to reopen Texas businesses, so your favorite shops may be opening sooner than you think. While businesses will still be operating with a curbside pick-up model,  every bit of business can help small shop owners stay on their feet during this unprecedented time.

Top Ways to Support Houston Businesses During Coronavirus:

Shop Local Businesses Online

Looking to spruce up your space? While non-essential businesses may have temporarily closed, many still operate online. The Flora Culture, Houston’s chic home plant shop, will deliver houseplants to your door to help bring some life into your space. Many local businesses have shifted to online, pick-up, and delivery. Why not give a gift to yourself or the loved one you miss most?  

Purchase Gift Cards For Future Shopping Trips

Can’t wait to browse the racks of your favorite Houston boutique once this is all over? We know the feeling. In the interim, you can support your favorite local shops by purchasing a gift card to use at a later date. This method also works for restaurants, salons, and more. Keep the gift card on hand for a future celebration or gift it to a friend so you can get together in person once Houston reopens.  

Purchase a Mask from a Local Designer

It’s time to update your mask collection! Houston County Judge Lina Hidalgo just issued the mandatory use of face coverings starting April 27. Due to severe shortages in personal protective equipment in hospitals, medical-grade masks should be left for the professionals. If you have an N95 mask or surgical mask at home, donate those to your local hospital for essential frontline employees.

The government has recommended civilians wear fabric face coverings to stay safe. Thankfully, Houston designers are coming to the rescue with stylish and safe cloth masks. Former Project Runway winner Chloe Dao is one Houstonian creating fashionable masks for shoppers. Houston-based designer David Peck has also come to the rescue with a variety of chic prints and styles. Being safe never looked so chic!

Keep Your Menu Interesting and Order From Local Restaurants

 Houston is known across the country for its prized restaurant scene. From accolades in the New York Times to an “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown” feature, our city knows how to show off its culinary delights. The question of what will happen to Houston restaurants has been posed by outlets from the Houston Chronicle to The New Yorker. Restaurants need patronage to survive, and the simple act of ordering takeout can make a huge impact.

If you’re tired of cooking, you’re not alone. While some foodies thrive in the kitchen, others prefer to sit back and enjoy a professional chef’s touch. Take a break from the stove and support a local business by putting in pick-up or delivery orders at your favorite local restaurants.

Spice up your at-home menu by supporting a local establishment. H-E-B recently rolled out new offerings by partnering with James Beard Award-winning chef Chris Shepherd’s Underbelly Hospitality, Cherry Block Craft Butcher and Kitchen, Brennan’s of Houston, and Agricole Hospitality’s Coltivare to offer chef-inspired meals-to-go. A few of our favorites restaurants doing curbside pick-up include Local Foods, Feges BBQ, The Original Ninfa’s, Savoir, and Pondicheri. Joining the list is MAD Houston and Kata Robota, which both recently reopened to grace our palates. 

Chris Shepherd of Underbelly Hospitality / Photo via @underbellyhou

Tip Accordingly

While delivery is a perfect solution for those of us who are homebound, it puts delivery drivers and restaurant workers at a higher risk. To thank essential workers, consider leaving a more generous tip if you’re able. The employees restocking shelves and crafting meals are at the heart of our city, and they work daily to ensure that Houstonians have what they need in a time of crisis.

Be Your Own Barista

Don’t underestimate the power of a fresh cup of coffee. In trying times, sometimes a cup of joe is a powerful pick-me-up. Learn to be your own barista at home with top of the line coffee beans. If you miss the taste of coffee from your favorite spots like Tout Suite and Tiny’s No. 5, don’t fret. Greenway Coffee’s beans can be purchased online, so you can get back to drinking the coffee you love. 

Be Strong Coffee Mug
Photo by Heather Ford

Keep Moving

Houston’s local fitness studios are sweating digitally. Working out with your favorite instructor is now as simple as signing up for an online Zoom class or tuning in to an Instagram Live. Support local fitness studios who’ve closed their doors by purchasing online drop-in classes. BIG Power Yoga, DEFINE body and mind, Black Swan Yoga, and Method Pilates are just a few of the businesses broadcasting workouts online until businesses reopen.

Quarantine yoga by streaming classes from a local Houston studio during Coronavirus
Photo by Avrielle Suleiman

Foster a Furry Friend 

Don’t let quarantining alone get you down. Houston’s animal shelters are open, and pets are available to foster and adopt. Consider taking a new furry friend into your home from Citizens for Animal Protection or the Houston Humane Society. The Houston Humane Society is committed to providing pet food to owners who are struggling during COVID-19. Donate to the organization by shopping the Humane Society Amazon wish list or dropping off food donations to the Pet Pantry, located at 14700 Almeda Road. 

Explore New Hobbies the Houston Way 

Now that we have nothing but time, let’s put those hours to use. While locked down in your home, use your free time to adopt a new hobby or learn a new skill. Forth + Nomad is selling a DIY candle kit, and shoppers can customize their own scents. Studies show that crafts like adult coloring books can also reduce anxiety, so lower your stress with this Houston-themed coloring book, Buildings from A-to-Z. The downloadable book includes recognizable landmarks like The Galleria, One Shell Plaza, and the Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park. 

Use Your Social Influence

With layoffs and furloughs hitting many Houstonians over the last month, some households may not be in the financial situation to give back to local businesses. If the novel coronavirus is putting a strain on your financial situation, respect your budget. Helping a local business is as easy as sharing its services on social media with your friends and followers. Every little bit of exposure can help small business owners in a big way.

With talk of Texas businesses beginning to reopen, what’s the business you’re most excited about?