Small Business Saturday — More Important Than Ever

Written By Charlotte Insurance on November 25, 2020. It has 0 comments.

a 'thing big shop small' sign representing small business Saturday in Charlotte.

The first Small Business Saturday began in 2010, in the midst of a tough recession. American Express declared the Saturday after Thanksgiving a day to direct our spending towards small local businesses. In 2011, the US Senate unanimously passed a resolution supporting and recognizing Small Business Saturday.

Plenty of customers have embraced the day over the years. In 2019, Small Business Saturday brought in an estimated $19.6 billion to small, local businesses. That’s a good thing, because for every dollar spent at a local business, 67 cents stays in the local community.

This year, with COVID-19 touching every aspect of our lives, Small Business Saturday may look a little different, but it’s more important than ever. Here’s what you can do to help local businesses.

Shop Online, Locally

Many, many small businesses updated their online shops when COVID-19 hit. Some realized the importance of going online very quickly. As a result some of your favorite spots now offer online ordering — either with curbside pick-up or local shipping options. If you’re already shopping online at the big sites, take a few minutes to virtually stroll through these small business sites, too. You’ll usually find something unique and fun, and you’ll be helping a local business owner and their family at the same time.

Buy Gift Cards

Love a store but don’t know what to buy as a gift? Has your favorite shop closed temporarily because of COVID-19? Find out if you can buy a gift card from them. The small business gets an immediate infusion of much-needed cash, and you (or the recipient of the gift certificate) will get the chance to shop later. Not only will that bring traffic into their business later, many people spend more than the value of the gift card, so the small business benefits from additional sales later, too.

Share Your Favorite Shops on Social Media

There’s only so much money you can spend at one store, but there’s more you can do to help a small business. Share their site or one of their online sales on your Facebook feed. Tag friends on the business’s Instagram posts with a “Hey, you should check this store out, they’re great” kind of message. Anything you can do to let more people know about the small businesses you love, the more you help that business. Small businesses thrive on word-of-mouth, and Small Business Saturday is a great time to encourage your friends and family to shop small and local.

The backbone of our country is made up of small businesses, many of which are family-owned. With shutdowns, safety precautions, and fewer people out shopping, local businesses suffer — which means the owner, employees, and their families suffer, too. When you shop for Christmas presents and holiday items this year, participate in Small Business Saturday to find unique gifts and help support local businesses at the same time.

Here at Charlotte Insurance, we’re a small business and appreciate your support, but we are also very proud to work with and support many small, local businesses as well.

Safely Celebrating Thanksgiving

Written By Charlotte Insurance on November 19, 2020. It has 0 comments.

a family celebrating Thanksgiving during COVID-19

Thanksgiving is a holiday that’s all about family coming together to celebrate what we’re thankful for. COVID-19 has made that difficult, if not impossible, this year. You don’t have to give up all of your plans, but it’s important to take precautions to keep you and your loved ones healthy and safe.

Here’s how you can safely celebrate Thanksgiving this year.

The Safest Way to Celebrate: Stay Home with Immediate Family

The absolute safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is not to go anywhere or visit with anyone beyond the people who live with you. You may miss the family traditions and fun, but you will also protect yourself, kids, and other family members from possible infection. There are plenty of things to do at home to put you in the Thanksgiving spirit:

  • Plan a meal of all your Thanksgiving favorites with your family. Cook together if you can.
  • Connect with family and friends via Zoom or FaceTime. Consider coordinating meal times so you can eat “together” too.
  • Watch parades, football games, and other Thanksgiving specials on TV together as a family.
  • Enjoy online shopping for Black Friday — avoiding both the pre-dawn wake-up and the crowds.

If you like to do something for your local community on Thanksgiving, consider cooking and delivering meals to friends, elderly neighbors, and others who may be alone on Thanksgiving. Leave the meals at their front door, ring the bell, and wave from a distance. You’ll be helping others while keeping everyone safe.

Take Precautions with Riskier Thanksgiving Celebrations

Because of how easily COVID-19 is transmitted, anything you do beyond your immediate family and in public carries certain risks with it. You can modify your behavior to reduce these risks, but you can’t eliminate them completely. If staying home simply isn’t an option, here’s what you can do instead:

  • Plan a family gathering outdoors instead of inside. Cook outside and make sure you have room for people to spread out and maintain social distancing.
  • When attending pumpkin patches, festivals, and other Thanksgiving celebrations, wear a mask, use hand-sanitizer, and maintain social distancing with others.

Visiting Family This Thanksgiving

There are special precautions you may want to take for visiting family, especially if you plan a long weekend together.

  • Quarantine before the visit. This reduces the chance that you spread COVID-19 during the visit.
  • Share a single space with family and then plan all activities in that space. Get a cabin, beach house, or small cottage to rent together and then hang out there, avoiding public spaces.
  • Wear masks when not eating meals.
  • If you drive, keep stops to a minimum and use masks and hand sanitizer.
  • If you fly, the airplane itself may be very safe, especially if everyone follows mask requirements. The airport, however, may be a giant petri dish. Avoid flying if at all possible.

The safest thing you can do is to stay home this Thanksgiving. Keep your celebrations small and connect virtually instead of in-person. But if you decide to get together with friends and family, take precautions to keep everyone safe and healthy.

Black Friday Will Look Different This Year

Written By Charlotte Insurance on November 12, 2020. It has 0 comments.

a woman shopping online during Black Friday because of COVID-19

How different will Black Friday be this year due to COVID-19? So different that, for some retailers, it’s already Black Friday and will continue to be through the holiday season. To reduce coronavirus transmission and crowd sizes, retailers have gotten creative for Black Friday and the entire holiday shopping season.

The Deals Have Already Begun

The first thing to know about this year’s Black Friday sales is that they’ve already started. Many big box retailers and major brands are offering deals and sales right now. Instead of placing the focus on a single day of shopping or even a week-long period of shopping, retailers have taken it online and expanded the savings. This reduces crowds in stores, keeping everyone safer.

Wal-Mart has planned three opportunities to get the “best prices of the season” in November alone. Lowe’s is offering daily deals online from October 22 to December 2. Amazon started a Holiday Dash with special prices already available. Target, Sam’s Club, Macy’s, and multiple other major retailers aren’t waiting to entice shoppers to wait. They’re actively encouraging us all to buy gifts earlier and over a longer period of time this year.

More Ways to Shop

Of course, by now, we all know how easy it is to shop online. But retailers are going above and beyond to create different options for customers. If you don’t want the expense of shipping costs or the wait, many stores allow you to buy online and pick up in store or curbside. That way you get your purchase sooner rather than later, but you’re not crowding into a store.

Smaller retailers, especially those who can’t compete with the big names on price or discounts, will continue to offer special experiences. While in the past those might have been pictures with Santa or winter festivals downtown, this year, they’re getting creative in new ways. Some small stores offer reservation options for customers to shop in store. Others will allow limited numbers of customers in at a time so people can safely shop in person. You may even find a store that gives you a virtual personal shopper experience.

Less Stress This Shopping Season

Ultimately, for those who love the Black Friday experience, it will definitely be different this year. But, in some ways, it may be a lot less stressful, too. No fighting crowds, waking up before the sun rises, or staying up late on Thanksgiving. For those who really enjoy the experience of shopping with friends and family, make it a Zoom party instead and drink hot chocolate (or hot toddies) while shopping in your pajamas.

One nice thing has come from the changes to the shopping season: many retailers will close on Thanksgiving this year. Wal-Mart was one of the first to announce the change, and other stores made their own announcements soon after. Not only does this keep people safe from crowded stores, it gives their employees time to spend with their own families.

You don’t have to wait until the day after Thanksgiving to start your holiday shopping, and you don’t have to shove a stranger to get the best deal on the perfect gift. Black Friday is a different experience this year, and for good reason.

Celebrating Veterans Day, Safely

Written By Charlotte Insurance on November 5, 2020. It has 0 comments.

Thank You Veterans sign during COVID-19

A lot about life has changed this year thanks to COVID-19, including how we celebrate holidays and special moments. Even though we need to social distance, wear masks, and stay out of large groups, we can still celebrate the moments and people that matter most. We simply need to be safe about it. That’s especially true this Veterans Day, as many military veterans are older and at higher risk of complications from COVID-19.

Here’s how you can honor the military veterans in your life and community while keeping everyone safe.

Call a Veteran and Say Thank You

Normally we’d tell you to shake their hand and say thank you. This year, do a more distanced version and call the veterans in your life. This might be a family member or an old college buddy. It may be the child or parent of a friend of yours. You can call them on the phone or invite them to a Zoom chat with other people who want to honor them. It’s important that we acknowledge their sacrifices and service but in a way that keeps everyone safe.

Buy a Meal — From a Distance

If you like to take a veteran you know for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, you can still do that — in a modified way. Order take-out and have it sent to them. Send them a gift card to their favorite restaurant. Give them a call once you know their meal (or gift card) have arrived and chat with them. If everyone feels safe and the weather cooperates, have an outdoor picnic, at home or in the park.

Another option might be to call a local restaurant where you know veterans like to eat and pay for a few meals over the phone (or buy gift cards to use as payment). Staff can apply those to veterans meals and simply let them know it was done as a thank you for their service. You can also stay anonymous if you prefer.

Donate to a Homeless Shelter

Donating to homeless shelters that work with veterans can be a huge help. Veterans make up 11 percent of the homeless population in the United States. Look for local shelters or veterans programs in your area or go online to see what national organizations need. You may be able to donate old clothes to a shelter or make a cash donation. Either way, you’re helping veterans who need it most and changing lives.

Recognize Veterans in Your Life

You can do this in a variety of ways. Coordinate with your boss (or do it yourself, if you’re the boss) to send out an email or company-wide message, thanking veterans employed by your company. Publicly thank them for their service and recognize them by name, if possible. You can also do this within smaller communities. Post a message in NextDoor for your neighborhood, thanking the veterans you know personally and inviting others to do the same. Send a family text or email and show the vets in your family extra love, too.

There are plenty of ways to celebrate Veterans Day and show support for veterans in your life and community while keeping everyone safe. Parades may not be a safe option this year, but small acknowledgements can be meaningful for veterans, too.

To all veterans and military families, especially those we know, love, and have worked with, thank you for your service and your sacrifice. We are a better and safer country because of your service.