When you can’t go out to support your local businesses, the next best option might be to do it digitally.
That was Brandi Osborn’s plan when she started the Let’s Help Small Businesses Facebook page, days after Gov. Jay Inslee announced the first wave of business closures during the COVID-19 outbreak.
“It kind of blew up. I started it as a little page between my close friends and family as something to do while we’re all staying at home,” the Buckley resident said. “Then people just started inviting people and inviting people, and it just grew.”
Over the last two weeks, the group has grown to more than 2,500 members.
“It’s super awesome,” she continued. “I love it.”
The concept is simple: every day around 5 or 5:30 p.m., Osborn selects a local business from around the Plateau, and for the next 24 hours, all money donated via Venmo, PayPal, Facebook cash, or cashApp will be donated to that one business.
But this doesn’t have to be 100 percent altruistic for donors — the money goes toward buying gift cards, and donors are chosen randomly to determine who receives them.
“Whether they can use them now, or use them later, we just figured we’re not only helping the business now, but we’re helping them later,” Osborn said. “It’s a double win.”
As of last Wednesday, April 2, the group has raised more than $6,000, which has gone on to support Buckley’s Heavenly Hands Massage, Enumclaw’s The Mint, The Carlson Block in Wilkeson, and Lampproast Coffee Roasters in Bonney Lake, just to name a few.
When the group was small, Osborn picked the businesses they would support, but now that the group has more than quadrupled in size, she’s been setting up polls to determine which businesses the group wants to support next.
“We’re taking into account whether the businesses are still open and operating, or how limited they are in their operating, because we don’t want to help a business that’s fully operating and making a bunch of money,” Osborn said.
In the near future, Osborn plans to partner with OOAK — One of a Kind Print and Design, based in Enumclaw, to sell t-shirts; $10 from those sales would go toward a business specified by the buyer, she said.
“We’re in the middle of getting that design finalized right now, so we’re super excited to do that for them,” owner Brennon Gulin said in an interview last week.
The Let’s Help Small Business Facebook page is private, but you can request to join it by going to www.facebook.com/groups/296912674613344/.