For the last year news outlets have reminded us over and over of the toll the pandemic has had on small businesses. First hand we've seen some popular local joints close down. (RIP, downtown El Gallo Giro location.) But like many of these businesses, individuals have been hit hard financially as a result of the pandemic. So if you're wondering how to keep your favorite places up and running when your wallet is just starting to recover, here are free ways to support local businesses that actually make an impact.

Write a review: Maybe you can't spend money now, but you can easily write a review detailing why it was so awesome to spend it there when you could. Especially when it comes to restaurants, reviews help drive business in a big way. You have to sign up to leave reviews on Yelp and Google, but it's simple enough and makes a big impact.

Follow the business's socials: You're on your phone scrolling through Instagram and Facebook anyway. It takes next to no time to click that follow button. And really this is a symbiotic situation. You'll be up to date on what's going on with them. Their follower count goes up, which triggers the algorithm and their profile pops up as a suggestion for more people. It's computer science. On Instagram specifically, 10 thousand followers unlocks a "swipe up" feature where the business can link their website.

Share their content: Now that you're following them on social media, take the step to share their content to your stories and like and comment their posts. Tag them on your page. This all goes back to triggering the algorithm. The more engagement, the more their business will pop up on people's feeds.

Provide feedback: In the same family as leaving a review, but do this in a direct message or email to the business. Not in a Karen mean way. But genuine constructive criticism and praise for what they're doing right. Anything to make sure service is top notch is helpful.

Good ol' fashioned word of mouth: Just talk about the business. Tell your friends and family. Suggest your coworkers to give them a try. If you can mention the business in conversation, do it. I recommendation straight from the horse's mouth always sticks. How many times have you caught yourself saying something like "Oh my gosh, go to Cactus Bar! That place is great."? It's that simple.

Eventually you'll get back to spending your dollars at the places you love. Support them without your wallet until then so they're still there when you're ready to drop that cash.

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