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Shop Local and Support Your Community

From store closures to stay-at-home orders, the worldwide spread of the novel coronavirus has left consumers struggling to get the products they need from their usual sources. While social distancing requirements that help limit the spread of pathogens appear to be having a positive effect on public health, these precautions are taking a toll on brick-and-mortar businesses.

Operating under the belief that they won’t be able to get what they need from their favorite local retailers, many consumers have turned to online shopping. And though this may solve one problem, it could quickly create others: the widespread failure of independent retail and the potential cascading effect on local economies.

This online shopping trend is affecting a number of industries—including pet stores—as consumers search for solutions during this crisis. But with many pet retailers still open and offering safe, convenient alternatives, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Here’s how a number of local pet stores are adapting, and how you can get what you need for your furry family members while supporting your community at the same time.

Local Solutions. Local Support.

Discovering local options for pet food, supplies, and more begins with a little simple research. A quick phone call or a visit to your neighborhood pet retailer’s website can help you find out what’s in inventory, and the kind of access available.

You may have heard that restaurants are offering delivery or curbside pickup to help encourage distancing and limit viral community spread. (If you’re like us, you’ve probably had some great takeout lately, too.) Well, many pet stores are using the same tactics, offering phone and online ordering, contactless curbside service, and local delivery to nearby zip codes to make customer transactions as seamless as possible.

Even with these tactics in place, many local establishments have had to cut staff and reduce hours, and they may be low on inventory due to supply chain challenges – so, please be patient. In the event you need to visit the actual physical location, be sure to minimize close contact with people and surfaces. To assist with this, many pet stores are encouraging cashless transactions and reducing the need for keypad use on credit or debit purchases.

Technology to the Rescue

In addition to having an effect on how we purchase products, the coronavirus crisis is also influencing the way we experience services. Professionals in all sorts of industries are turning to online communication platforms like Zoom to conduct daily business, or offer services like music lessons, yoga classes, or even dog training. If you’re pup’s training got cut short by a stay-at-home order, check with your local store to see if you can get started with courses online.

And if your favorite pet retailer is doing their best to help out your family during this time, make sure you show them some love by promoting them on social media. Mentioning their pages and telling people about your experiences on local forums can help introduce new customers. Even just a quick comment or like can let your local pet store owner know they’ve got your support.

Paying It Forward

Finally, if you’re all stocked up now, why not use this opportunity to pay it forward.

Purchasing gift cards for yourself, extended family, or friends is a great way to help your local pet store in the short and long run. It can provide them with an infusion of cash now, while broadening their future customer base and helping them recover lost revenue.

And while many local pet stores need assistance themselves, they’re still offering their own helping hand to the community. Your purchase may be worth more than you know as a number of independent pet retailers are asking customers to round up their change to help a local organization or by providing donations to local shelters.

Without action, the effects of the coronavirus could be devastating to local businesses. As we all try to stay healthy, let’s work together to support our favorite pet stores and neighborhood retailers to keep our local economy healthy, too.

Author: Nicole Kenedy, a Store Manager at DOGPerfect. Nicole has over 10 years of experience in the pet industry and is an expert when it comes to helping pet parents choose the right food for their dog. DOGPerfect is a local, independently owned pet retail store with locations in Sarasota, Lakewood Ranch, and University Park. Learn more at www.dogperfect.com

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