Ways That You Can Support Local Businesses From Home During COVID-19

Let’s be honest — our daily routine and life, in general, have been pretty challenging since COVID-19 first hit our shores. And while we might find it a little easier to normalise the new preventive measures and official directives given by the Singapore government, it has definitely been a lot harder on local businesses in the F&B, Entertainment, and Arts & Culture industry who are struggling to follow guidelines while still keeping their doors open.

We wanted to understand the real implications of how COVID-19 has affected local businesses so we reached out to Mumtaz Marican, owner of the cafe Knead to Eat, for an email interview to get a first-hand account of how the global pandemic has since affected her business.

 

One of Knead to Eat’s outlets. (Image credit: Knead to Eat)
ON SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCES SINCE THE REGULATIONS WERE IMPOSED

“We’re located in the business district (Changi Business Park & CBD) where we cater mostly to the white-collared workers. Since the new government regulations were imposed, we’ve had a dramatic reduction in the number of walk-in customers daily. Week after week, the numbers keep dropping as the government tightens measures to encourage people to work from home and go out only for necessities. Just in a span of one month, our business has dropped by a whopping 70% as many currently work from home.”

ON HOW THE REGULATION IS AFFECTING THEM FINANCIALLY

“The two largest fixed expense for most business owners are staffing and rental. Variable costs include the cost of goods, marketing, and overheads while profits are approx 8% to 10% in a normal operating environment. If the business dips by 20%, we’re just breaking even and with a 70% drop, we’re expecting 100% losses — which is really hard for independent restaurant owners like me who don’t have the financial backing of large corporations.”

ON HER BIGGEST FEAR AS A LOCAL BUSINESS OWNER
Owner Mumtaz Marican and her Knead to Eat Team. (Image credit: Mumtaz Marican)

“Losing the business which my team and I have so painstakingly grown over the past eight years, and also most importantly, letting my team down. Many of them have been working with me for years and they are family to me. If we can’t keep them, it will be a huge blow not only for themselves but also for their families back home. While I understand rationally how no one could have anticipated a pandemic of this magnitude, it’s really hard to comprehend emotionally because everyone will be out of a job and most have families that depend on their paycheck.”

ON CREATING ALTERNATIVES TO CATER TO THE CURRENT SITUATION
Knead to Eat looking at delivery alternatives to supplement their operations. (Image credit: Knead to Eat)

“We have started on quicker cost-saving measures such as letting go of part-timers and letting the staff take leave. The next step is to cut hours for everyone and implement pay cuts. But most importantly, we need to pivot. If customers can’t come to us, we’d need to bring our food to them. Although we’re already on delivery platforms, there are limitations so we came up with family meal boxes and a to-go deli section where we’d send all the ingredients needed to create your own sandwich or grain bowl meal.”

ON WHY IT IS IMPORTANT TO SUPPORT LOCAL BUSINESSES

“Most of the larger businesses will likely survive but many of your favourite independent restaurants, cafes, and retail stores may not. The best way to support local businesses like mine is really to buy a meal or two from us, be kinder to everyone around and help as many people out as you possibly
can.”

HOMEGROWN F&B BUSINESSES TO SUPPORT

KNEAD TO EAT
Knead to Eat’s DIY Sandwich Family Lunch Box. (Image credit: Knead to Eat)

In an effort to help support operations, Knead to Eat has ventured into the creation of {kneadtostayhome} family meal boxes and a {kneadtobuy} deli section. With the family meal boxes, customers can order either a DIY sandwich or grain bowl box and have it delivered with all the ingredients needed; while the deli section caters to help customers buy their favourite breads, meats, soups and veggies in larger quantities. They will all come pre-cooked and ready to eat in vacuum-sealed bags with free delivery for orders above $80.

THE HUMBLE SCOOP
Kopi-C Ice Cream from The Humble Scoop. (Image credit: The Humble Scoop)

This small ice cream parlour is home to nostalgic local flavours such as ondeh-ondeh, pulut hitam, kopi-c siew dai, and milo dinosaur. While the shop still has its fair share of loyal customers, the current virus situation has made it difficult for them to rely solely on foot traffic. The owner, Yvonne, has shared that she is looking to partner with delivery services as well as pint promotions to make access to her ice cream easier and worry-free. You can check their Facebook or Instagram for more updates on this.

PASTA BAR
Create your very own Pasta Bar dish at home! (Image credit: Pasta Bar)

Who says that you can’t enjoy fresh, homemade pasta from the popular Pasta Bar even when you’re having your dinner at home? To combat the challenges created because of COVID-19, the restaurant has created Fresh Pasta Home Cooking Kits and Bake Yourself Lasagne Trays that can be delivered island-wide or picked up daily through a direct order via their website.

HAWKER CENTRES
Fancy a plate of satay at home? (Image credit: Klook)

We all love our hawker food but during this trying time and the safe-distancing measures in effect, it can prove a little hard to make the trip down. To help solve this, Foodpanda has partnered with WhyQ to create a win-win scenario where we get to support our local businesses while enjoying great hawker food in the comfort of our home. The platform currently has more than 300 hawker stalls serving up local fare from Amoy Street Food Centre, Maxwell Food Centre, Old Airport Road Food Centre, and Food Village.

POPULAR LOCAL CAFES
Get delicious brunch delivered from popular local cafes to your home! (Image credit: The LoKal)

While most cafes in Singapore do have the option of takeaway and delivery, there is a handful of them taking their menu (and other offerings) onto delivery platforms for the first time in a bid to counteract the low foot traffic in their physical shops.

Here are some popular cafes that you can now find online on the various food delivery platforms:

Brunches Cafe
Dutch Colony Coffee Co.
Forty Hands
Patisserie G
The Lokal
Tolido’s Espresso Nook
Two Bakers
Working Title (Burger Bar)

HOMEGROWN ENTERTAINMENT VENUES

THE PROJECTOR
Help The Projector out by adopting a seat. (Image credit: Notchbad)

As all entertainment venues, including cinemas, are to stay closed until 30 April 2020, it would definitely not be an easy period for indie cinemas like The Projector to survive. So, during this forced lull period, the independent cinema is seeking donations through the sale of merchandise such as adopting-a-seat or ticket gift packs, that will help contribute to sustaining their operation. You can view all the merch for sale here.

SINGAPORE REPERTORY THEATRE
SRT’s production of Sweeney Todd in 2019. (Image credit: Singapore Repertory Theatre)

The impact of COVID-19 has been rather significant within the arts community especially with the cancellation of shows. The SRT is currently seeking donations through their Friends of SRT Donor Programme in an effort to help support artists and employees through this difficult period while they continue to work on shows for the future.

PLAY NATION
While Play Nation may not be able to function as a game cafe, they will be offering online services instead. (Image credit: Play Nation)

Although Play Nation may not be able to provide their usual services as a game cafe due to the current government regulations, they are however ramping up on providing safe-distancing services such as food delivery through GrabFood, and online retail (which includes a supermarket). Plus, they’ve also listed quite a couple of board games online which you can purchase and deliver to your home. For more information, click here.

Here are two other game cafes that have brought their services online where you can purchase board games or order food through delivery platforms:

Settlers Cafe
Gamersaurus Rex

WILD RICE @ FUNAN

Having to postpone shows means a loss of critical revenue for Wild Rice as a theatre company. Since the postponement of shows, it has become increasingly difficult for Wild Rice to protect the interests of their core staff as they are unable to stage the productions that they’ve been planning for months. Wild Rice is currently seeking donations which will directly support the livelihoods of their employees and artists as well as the operation of the theatre space during this difficult time. For more information, click here.

HOMEGROWN BARS

EMPLOYEES ONLY SINGAPORE
Enjoy popular cocktails in the comfort of your home from Employees Only Singapore. (Image credit: Employees Only Singapore)

Even as Employees Only Singapore is still open for business to serve dinner, the restaurant-bar has branched out to offer pre-bottled cocktails such as Old Fashioneds and Cold Brew Martinis which are available for takeout or delivery in the form of a 350ml bottle at $80. For those who enjoy their famed EO Negroni, you’ll be happy to note that it is available as well in a larger 750ml bottle for $150.

SHIN GI TAI
Not keen on leaving your home? Have Shin Gi Tai’s cocktails delivered to your door step. (Image credit: Shin Gi Tai)

Though they may not be able to serve their regulars at their bar, Shin Gi Tai is offering their cocktails for takeaway and delivery in either 300ml or 500ml bottles (from $80). The cocktails are prepped fresh when the orders come in, and apart from the classics on their menu, you are also able to get a bespoke cocktail made just for you. This pre-bottled service is available every Monday to Saturday from 2pm to 10pm. For more information, click here.

THE OLD MAN
To-go cocktails complete with garnishes from The Old Man. (Image credit: The Old Man)

While The Old Man may still be open for business, they have expanded to cater to customers who may prefer enjoying their cocktails at home. The prepped takeaway cocktails are available for a quick pick-up, inclusive of garnishes, 15 minutes ahead of your intended collection. The cocktails for takeaway include A Farewell to Arms, The Sun Also Rises, Papa Doble, Little Wax Puppy, Negroni, Clear Old Fashioned, and Classic Old Fashioned.

SUPPORT LOCAL BUSINESSES WHEREVER YOU CAN

It’s a tough time for local businesses and as fellow Singaporeans, there’s no time like the present to give them a little support to help tide them over.

Presenting an alternative method to support local businesses, ChopeAndSave allows locals to get a gift card from Singaporean restaurants, bars, and shops such as BooksActually and Cat Socrates, which you can use online or at a later date. Consolidated and categorised by neighbourhoods, it is a good way to see if there are shops around you that you can help.

Another website dedicated to helping merchants affected by COVID-19 is iSaveSG which allows for you to purchase promo coupons to use with 100% of the profits going straight to the merchant.

 

Infographic on why it is important to help local business during this difficult time. (Image credit: #savefnbsg movement)

Alternatively, you could also follow or browse #savefnbsg and #supportlocalsg on social media to see if there are any businesses looking for a helping hand.

 


Banner image credit: (1), Mumtaz Marican, (3)

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