How To Support Local SF Businesses While You’re Stuck Inside

Ashlyn Davis Ashlyn Davis

support local

Local art, food and culture is the lifeblood of any community. Here’s how you can keep buying locally during ‘shelter in place’.

The CDC has ordered a rapid closure of “nonessential” businesses and services across the Bay Area and over the last few days, all of us have mournfully watched our favorite galleries, theatres, studios, coffee shops and restaurants turn their “open” signs around and declare temporary closure. In some cases small businesses have been forced to layoff staff, reduce services or close altogether.

The devastating effects have rippled through the Bay, with owners scrambling to find new ways to keep the wheels turning. As we continue to live through these unsettling circumstances, we are presented with a unique opportunity to strengthen our social bonds through innovation and mutual support. Here are a few ways that you can enjoy your creature comforts while keeping local Bay businesses thriving in a time of “social distancing”.

1. Coffee

Most of your local coffee shops have delivery subscriptions available or allow you to order online and tip virtually. Specialist equipment is often sold online too, which means you can bring the brew home and become a professional barista over the next few weeks.

Here’s a list of local coffee shops that are still operating, with a few changes.

2. Farmers’ markets and local grocery stores

Your local grocery stores and food markets are still deemed essential services. Farmers’ markets like the Fort Mason Center Farmers’ Market and the Ferry Building Market will be open with precautionary measures in place.

A few vendors will also be selling via Postmates, Doordash, Grubhub and Caviar, including, but not limited to, Acme Bread, Delica, El Porteno Empanandas, Ferry Plaza Farmers Market (Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays), Ferry Plaza Wine Merchants, Frog Hollow, Golden Gate Meat, Humphry Slocombe, Mariposa Bakery, Peet’s Coffee, Stonehouse and Village Market.

3. Bookstores

In a city like San Francisco, one thing that really glues the community together is the shared appreciation for literature. Nothing could replace the joy of strolling through aisles lined with books, finding a quiet corner and paging through a few options before settling on a gem. So, the next best thing is supporting the community from wherever you are by checking their social accounts,

  • Purchase from wholesale sites: Search wholesale websites like AbeBooks, Amazon, and Biblio for your favorite store. Many independents may list their books online like Russian Hill Bookstore.
  • Online sales: Many secondhand stores like Alley Cats sell online and deliver to your door.
  • Audiobooks: Platforms like Libro.Fm is similar to Audiobook’s membership model, except it caters to Independent bookstores. You can check if your favorite local shop is on it like Green Apple Books.
  • Subscriptions: Individual stores may also offer online membership which could allow you to accrue books and have them delivered or collect them at a later date.
  • Gift cards: Of course, nothing beats a gift card.

4. Restaurants and bakeries

A good way to curb your cravings is with roadside pickups, or takeouts and home deliveries. Being in self-isolation doesn’t mean you have to give up your regular orders from your local deli. Check the social profiles of your favorite restaurants to see if they’ve introduced a new pickup model. You can find an up-to-date list of San Francisco restaurants that are offering takeouts and deliveries on Eater here. Additionally, you can explore these options below.

  • Delivery apps: Your local delivery apps such as Grubhub, Doordash, UberEats, Postmates, Instacart, Caviar, Delivery.com and ChowNow are likely to have more of your local eateries joining over time, so keep your eyes peeled.
  • Save our Faves: The new platform allows you to buy gift cards that may keep your best Bay spots in business.
  • Community Google Doc: Foodie influencer Alli Tong has created a running list of places that are offering new services during the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Giveaways: Many restaurants are giving away excess ingredients for free or for purchase. Check the social accounts of local food bloggers and eateries.

4. Artists and galleries


One of the greatest outlets and escapes is art. While virtual tours are a great alternative, there is nothing quite like taking home a new piece for your home. You can still experience the thrill of browsing beautiful work and building a bond with a local creative by purchasing their merchandise or art online or donate a monthly fee via Venmo, PayPal or Patreon. Here are additional ways to keep the community going.

  • Art membership platforms: Sites like Patreon, Podia and Memberful allow journalists, podcasters, YouTubers, writers, journalists, artists, comedians, and other creatives to create a sustainable means of income through customer’s memberships. Anything from artworks, courses, workshops and other services can be found here for a small subscription fee.
  • Artfinder is also an excellent tool for entering the world of art buying. You’ll be able to browse and purchase work according to styles, budget or subject matter.
  • Instagram: Most artists tend to offer art classes or commissions through their Instagram accounts and websites. Follow your favorite local artist and find out what they’re offering during ‘shelter in place’.
  • stARTup Art Fair is allowing ticket holders to use their passes for future art fairs. They’re also selling work from local artists online.
  • Art Attack SF is a great place to buy prints by local artists online.
  • Artsy.net also has a good selection of paintings, sculptures and prints available for online purchases.

5. Health & fitness

Your health is key when you’re stuck at home and fitness is proven to boost your physical and mental state. The best way to keep your regular routine going (or start a new one), is to take a virtual class or download an app. Other ways to support local SF instructors are listed below.

  • Community Google Doc of online classes: The Bay Area community has already started a shared Google Doc that covers fitness every day of the week. Find yourself an online instructor here or add yours. If you can’t find something, try reaching out to your usual instructors online.
  • Present: Present allows you to connect with like-minded individuals near you. You can stream, chat, host classes from anywhere. The company has even outlined a few local fitness influencers in The Bay Area here.
  • Zoom: MNT Studio is just one studio hosting live classes via the platform. Follow your local studio and find out if they’re doing the same.
  • Instagram Live: Local fitness guru, Allison Tibbs is already hosting free classes on her Instagram page and various platforms.

6. Theatres and concerts

The cancelations of community gatherings and events have been devastating for the industry. There are still ways to keep your favorite concerts, venues and performing artists going during the lockdown.

  • GoFundMe CA: You can browse the platform and donate as much as you can to various campaigns. NoisePop, the Make-Out Room and Balboa theatre have already listed fundraisers.
  • Donate your ticket: Instead of requesting a refund or exchange, consider donating your ticket.
  • Book future shows: Book shows with independent performers for later in the year.
  • Donate or buy gift cards: Most venues will have a link on their social accounts like AsiaSF.

7. Happy hour

If there’s one thing that’s clear, in times of panic alcohol will be the first on the list. At least in the Bay Area. Many distilleries and Wineries report a surge in buying once the ‘shelter in place’ was announced. Here are some ways to get your happy hour on when you’re not able to get outside.

  • Drizly: The app allows you to search your nearest liquor store and have items delivered to your door.
  • Order food from a restaurant: under the current shelter in place order restaurants can
  • Deliveries: Most wineries allow you to order online and have your orders delivered such as K&L, Biondivino and Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant, to name a few.
  • Pickup: Distilleries such as Standard Deviant allow you to order online and pick up instore.

[Featured image Green Apple Books]

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