We all know how much small businesses are struggling right now. While so many have been innovative and found new ways to continue operations during this pandemic, we also have the opportunity to support them however we can.

If you want to look at statistics, 48% of US employees are employed by small businesses. For every dollar we spend at small businesses, 67 cents stays in the local community. When we support them we are supporting our friends and family in that area.

I’ve teamed up with other North Carolina (and one South Carolina) bloggers and influencers to highlight some of their favorite small businesses and how you can show your support during this time.

You’ll see one business that two different bloggers mention, Dirtbag Ales Brewery. I left the duplication because their cause is near and dear to my heart: supporting our military. My brother is in the Air Force and I know the strain it puts on those men and women plus their families. So Dirtbag Ales, thank you for what you do.

In addition to Dirtbag Ales, there are many other amazing companies that are struggling through the pandemic right now. I hope that this post and these blogger’s suggestions will inspire you to go out and show your support to at least one.

Dirtbag Ales

Recommended by Christina from NC Tripping

Dirtbag Ales is one of our absolute favorite North Carolina businesses. Not only are they a veteran-owned brewery, but their kid-friendly and spacious taproom is our favorite thing to do in Fayetteville, NC! Home to Fort Bragg, one of the largest military installments in the world, Dirtbag Ales has stepped up their giving back during COVID-19.

Beer from Dirtbag Ales.

With thousands of soldiers returning to Fort Bragg from deployments across the world, many of them are having to quarantine themselves to help stop flatten the curve. To help bring some cheer back into these soldier’s lives, Dirtbag Ales has been donating their Homecoming Pilsner to those in quarantine. The Homecoming Pilsner was brewed last year in partnership with the Fayetteville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau as a special release for Veterans Day. They have already distributed 900 cans to the troops on Fort Bragg.

With approximately 5,000 soldiers expected to return from deployments in the next 40 days, there is going to be a need for more beer to be distributed. Many of these soldiers have said that having a taste of delicious American made beer has been a wonderful addition to returning home. To keep up with demand, Dirtbag has begun accepting donations to provide more beer. Donations can be made by adding a cash value to their tab or adding single beers or six-packs to their own orders to go to the troops returning home.

MTR Lawncare

Recommended by JaMeka from Ramnaths Away

My husband, Meshach Ramnath has always wanted to start a lawncare business with our son, Tristan so when he is older they could work and have a business together. This also teaches our son about responsibility and work ethics.

Tristan by his dad’s lawn mower.

That finally happened last year in spring of 2019 when MTR Lawncare was born! While Tristan isn’t old enough yet for the business, he is super excited about his daddy’s lawncare service. Meshach takes pride in his work with great attention to detail.

If you’re looking for affordable lawncare in the Clayton, NC and surrounding area and want to help support his local business, MTR Lawncare offers mowing, trimming, edging and blowing to keep your yard looking great! You can email him at MTRLawncare@hotmail.com for a free estimate.

Marci Jo’s Old Mountain Store

Recommended by Dave of Discover Carolinas

By the time we all feel safe leaving our homes and traveling about, the dogwoods and azaleas will have probably faded. But you know you’re going to want out of the house and one great trip to make is driving on Highway 11 (the Scenic Highway) in Greenville County, SC. It will take you near Jones Gap State Park, Caesar’s Head State Park, and Bald Rock as well as directly in front of Table Rock State Park and Wildcat Wayside waterfall. 

Try the muffins at Marci Jo’s Olde Mountain Store.

All that traveling and natural beauty will surely work up an appetite for the entire carload so look for Marci Jo’s Olde Mountain Store at the corner of Highway 11 and Highway 276 in Cleveland, SC. (4000 Geer Hwy, Cleveland, SC 29635). They are open Wednesday through Sunday and serve a variety of great food including pizza, BBQ, Jambalaya, and some mighty tasty hot dogs.

But the best reason to stop is that Marci Jo is a talented baker and always has muffins, cupcakes, and other delicious baked goods to choose from.  Oh, and then there’s all the great gift items available to purchase like local photographs, wreaths, and painted signs. They offer all their food to go right now but look forward to indoor and outdoor dining once approved by DHEC again.

Brewery Bhavana

Recommended by Finding NC

Let’s be honest, quarantine essentials definitely include a good beverage (or two… or three). Brewery Bhavana is one of our favorite restaurants in Raleigh. They also produce some killer beers (I’m especially obsessed with their Manifest IPA).

We were excited to read about their “Service Pale Ale” release. 100% of the proceeds of this beer go to an emergency fund in support of service industry employees who have lost their jobs in the current crisis. Lightly hopped and heavily awesome (taste and concept)! We were able to order online for home delivery, but this was just a one day online beer sale.

To check Brewery Bhavana out or keep supporting them in this unprecedented time, try one of their brews!

Sweet Tea Shakespeare, Dirtbag Ales, & Yellow Crayons

Recommended by Jenny of Go Fayetteville

Supporting Our First Responders:

Early in the COVID-19 crisis, one of Fayetteville’s beloved theatre companies, Sweet Tea Shakespeare, launched an initiative to put their own seamstresses to work making masks for local healthcare workers. They collaborated with local essential stores, such as Leclair’s General Store and JOANN, to be a pick-up site for fabric donations and/or a drop-off site for completed masks. Approximately 15 volunteers have now joined the cause in sewing these masks, which are then being distributed to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center and local clinics.

Masks for local healthcare workers made by volunteers with Sweet Tea Shakespeare.

Small theatre companies like STS are struggling right now, as shows are being postponed, but just three ways you can support them are by purchasing tickets to next season’s shows, buying one of their signature swag items, and/or becoming one of their Patreon sustainers.

Supporting Our Military Service Members:

Approximately 5,000 soldiers have been returning from deployments in waves over the last few weeks to Fort Bragg, where many of them are being quarantined as a precautionary measure. When a brigade commander reached out to veteran-owned-and-operated Dirtbag Ales Brewery & Taproom (DBA) about donating beer to the returning troops, it was a no-brainer for DBA to jump on this cause.

Last Veterans Day, DBA had collaborated with the Fayetteville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (FACVB) in producing a beer specifically for the FACVB’s annual Heroes Homecoming initiative. DBA decided it was only appropriate to donate 900 cans of that same Homecoming Pilsner to welcome these soldiers home.

With their brewery closed for onsite public consumption right now, DBA is depending on folks to support them by purchasing canned brews to go, and you can do that by calling ahead and preordering for curbside pickup or by using their brewery’s service window to select one or more of their nine beer options. While you’re at it, pay by phone or in person for an extra six-pack to be donated to a quarantined soldier. DBA’s onsite restaurant, Napkins, is also still serving up their deliciousness via take-out or curbside pickup, so you can have the best of both worlds: brews and grub to go!

Supporting Service Industry Workers:

One of Cool Spring Downtown District’s popular small businesses, Yellow Crayons (YC), specializes in making custom-designed t-shirts and more for individuals and businesses. In fact, their regular clients include Dirtbag Ales and Sweet Tea Shakespeare. Our downtown visitors love taking a picture or special design to YC for their graphic-design experts to replicate on apparel, making for a wearable memento.

Purchase this shirt to support NC Restaurant Workers Relief Fund.

When John James, a chef who’d recently been laid off, approached YC recently with a t-shirt concept for supporting local restaurant workers, owner Jerry MacDonald jumped on the idea. The resulting product was a t-shirt with the number “86” on it—an homage to the common phrase used by restaurant workers when they’ve run out of something in the kitchen. YC has pledged to donate $5 for specifically every “86” t-shirt sold to the official NC Restaurant Workers Relief Fund, and anyone can order that tee from the safety of their home via YC’s site

Currently, YC’s store is closed to the public; however, you can still reach YC and place your order for other solo or bulk designs via their new website’s contact form, and they will work with you to develop the concept, print it, and deliver it to you curbside, outside their business.

Movies, Shops, Restaurants, & Music

Recommended from Kristen of The Trippy Life

My favorite movie theater in Raleigh is Alamo Drafthouse because of the artsy vibe and tasty food that gets delivered right to your seat. Even though you can’t visit them right now, Alamo Drafthouse has unique movies that you can buy a ticket to and stream at home.

Check out the movie CatVideoFest, a compilation of the most hilarious cat videos. A portion of the proceeds are donated to local cats in need. Last year alone, CatVideoFest raised $50,000 for cats. You can even order food from Alamo’s menu to be delivered to your house while you watch your movie. 

Kristen with her own furbabies!

If you’re in the Roxboro area, which is an hour north of Raleigh and Durham, let me suggest two of my favorites restaurants, Clarksville Station and Smokey Dave’s BBQ. Clarksville Station is a phenomenal steakhouse that converted a train station and civil war train cars into dining rooms. They have a local ghost they lovingly call Cedric.

Even though you can’t dine in right now, pick up the Ribeye Steak or Firecracker Shrimp, you won’t be disappointed. Smokey Dave’s is my family’s favorite place to get BBQ. Smokey Dave is super friendly and works hard to please his customers. You’ll love his BBQ ribs, pulled pork and BBQ beans.

In Wake forest, my hometown, I’d like to share two hidden spots. The first is Harvest Moon Trading Company. It’s a charming house where the owners live upstairs and run a fantastic boutique downstairs. They only sell locally sourced items like jewelry, candles, scented soaps, and clothing.

They’re known for their customer service and fabulous gift wrapping. Even though you can only order online right now, they’ll still gift wrap your item.  Trust me, they’ll make it look like a million bucks.

The other secret spot I wanted to tell you about in Wake Forest is MB’ Tasty Pastries. I drove by this spot for years before I realized it was there. It’s a tiny (we’re talking shed size) pastry shop where a sweet lady sells her amazing home-baked pies. All flavors are fantastic, but people rave over the Key Lime and Chocolate Chess Pie. They’re only open on Saturdays with curbside pick-up, and you must call in your order first. 

If you love the NC Symphony, check out the free resource they are offering to educators and parents while children are homebound. It includes fantastic lesson plans combined with videos of the symphony performing. It’s geared to 3rd – 5th graders. As a musician, I was really impressed with the engaging quality of the information presented.

Support the NC Symphony!

You might also want to consider becoming a supporter of the symphony since they are having to cancel current performances. Another way to support the arts is to sign up for online music lessons. As a piano teacher, I know that music studios are very concerned about losing students right now; but it just may be the perfect time to sign up your kids to learn an instrument online while they’re stuck at home with extra time.

Restaurants & Wine, Food Banks & Photographers

Recommended by Anna (me!) from Stuck On the Go

Old North State Winery is one of my favorite spots in Mt. Airy to share a meal with family or friends. Although you can’t sit in the cozy brick building with a glass of wine and beautiful charcuterie board right now, there are a few ways they are helping you bring fine dining into your own home.

Old North State in downtown Mount Airy.

They are currently offering two different options for takeout. The first is from their Old North State Market where you can purchase food to store and eat later. Many of these can be stored in the refrigerator or they sell them frozen so you can pop them in the oven whenever you need an easy meal!

The second option is takeout based on their weekly family dinner menu. Every Wednesday – Sunday they offer a unique dinner option for the night that must be picked up before 5pm. The menu changes weekly.

My favorite winery in Elkin, Carolina Heritage Winery, is offering curbside service from 1-6pm every Saturday and Sunday. The couple that owns this winery is incredibly sweet and so is Starla who is always working and making sure her customers have the best time! If you are a fan of reds, pick up their Chambourcin or Chambourcin-Cynthiana Blend. Prefer whites? Go with their Traminette.

The front porch of Carolina Heritage Winery.

Many people are purchasing food from local restaurants to support local, but don’t forget about those who can’t afford to purchase groceries right now. Our local food banks are experiencing a rush like never before and need our donations to keep up with demand. If you are able, please call your local food bank to see what they need most or take some nonperishable food items by their office.

One business that many don’t think about right now are photographers. With everyone staying home, their business has also declined. My wedding photographer Jessica with Little Wagon Photography is currently (as of April 13th) still doing photo sessions. These sessions are outdoors while still practicing social distancing and if she uses props she cleans them between each session.

Photo Credit: Little Wagon Photography.

Jessica captured every moment of my wedding day beautifully and she also does family, maternity, seniors, and newborn photos. Maybe you can get creative and do a photo shoot in front of your home! Document this period of quarantine. She can stay 6 feet away and still get gorgeous photographs of you.

Supporting Local NC Businesses During COVID-19

There have been so many named here and so many more local businesses that need our support right now. I know in North Carolina our communities are strong and we can come together and get through this.

While we can’t eat out or shop in our usual way, we can still purchase goods from these companies to help them stay afloat during this time. If you found an interesting business that you plan on supporting, then please share with a friend or on social media to raise awareness of these community centered local businesses in North Carolina.

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