Wednesday, June 19, 2024

In the absence of stimulus checks, consumers can help support local businesses

The world is crazy. We all feel it. But besides being worried about our health and the health of those we love, there are lots of people out there worried about how they will pay the rent this month.

Around 30% of Mexicans work in the informal economy and conservative figures predict that 18 million people will lose their jobs and 10% of businesses nationwide will close. There won’t be stimulus checks like there are in other countries, so in order to survive we must support our local community.

The folks in Mexico City are getting creative with all kinds of new and expanded ways to make money. There are lots of avenues that we, as consumers, can use to ensure the survival of local businesses.

Lots of restaurants and shops are still offering delivery services. The Chilango website published a guide of dozens of restaurants that have closed to the public but are still delivering food or offering it for pick-up. A few places that weren’t offering delivery service before now are, including some of my local favorites – Glace Bistro is sending out their gourmet ice cream in half liters and Doña Emi’s tamales is now delivering to your doorstep (call 55 4535 0103).

Several of the pop-up restaurants we featured in an earlier piece are offering home-cooked meals delivered to your front door. Take a minute to reach out to your favorite local eatery and see if they are offering delivery/pick-up service. 

Mexican comfort food can be delivered to your home.
Mexican comfort food can be delivered to your home.

New food delivery services are blossoming as freelancers and entrepreneurs pivot to use their skills in new ways. When Anais Ruiz’s food tours stalled she started to sell sweets and baked goods, a business that honors her French heritage. Maren Casorio, a poet and part-time cook, is now focusing 100% on her plant-based comida corrida (set lunch) delivery business, with menus posted each Sunday on social media.

Additionally, there are lots of ways to get fresh staples if you’re hesitant to order in and would rather cook for yourself. Local market stands are more than happy to send an order to your doorstep. These small, family-owned businesses need our support now more than ever. If you have a favorite market vendor, get their phone number and shop with them during this crisis.

The Mercadillo Huacal makes it even easier. On their website you can purchase a “Weekly Huacal” which is variety of vegetables, fruits and herbs from vendors in the Central de Abasto market. Each week, they publish on social media what that week’s basket contains. 

You can add any of the additional products on their site to your order, all provided by local businesses – chocolate from La Rifa Chocolatería, coffee from AlmaNegra, sweet bread by Bonsanco. Each week they post the contents of the weekly box and you can even donate a box to be given to a local health worker or other folks in need.

Yolcan, an organic farming project, continues to offer their excellent deliveries on a weekly or biweekly basis of organic veggies and fruits from right here in the Valley of México. It’s a great way to support local farmers and keep them growing in these vulnerable times.

Another delivery service is provided by growers in San Gregorio Atlapulco. Hortalizas Mago (552 949 3115) accepts orders by text and delivers to the city.

Pradera Verde is also offering a weekly basket service with fresh fruits and vegetables from small, local producers. For more than just fruits, veggies and specialty items, bulk stores like Estado Natural offer home delivery of basics – grains, flours, sweets, coffee, organic soaps and detergents. The Vecinos Unidos Corredor Roma-Condesa, for residents in this area, are also announcing businesses and their offerings during this time via Twitter. Many neighborhoods in the city have accounts like this, so look for yours if you are in Mexico City.

The Yolcan chinampa garden offers weekly produce deliveries.
The Yolcan chinampa garden offers produce deliveries.

A good entrepreneur can turn on a dime, and several local businesses have proven that. 3D printers Omar Ramos and María Ambrosio are now offering the plastic shield masks you may have seen shopkeepers wearing throughout the city. Homohabilis normally makes fine leather and suede goods but has shifted to making face masks with hypoallergenic leather that can be wiped down after each use and reused.

Other local businesses have expanded by taking their product to the internet. Aura Cooking School, run by chef Graciela Montaño, is offering its popular cooking classes online. Right now they have a taco class available with the promise of more soon – Mexican salsa making, Mexican breakfast food and Mexican sweets. Lauren Klein, a local stylist, has even taken haircutting lessons online.

Some businesses are banking on post-crisis business. The owners of Coffice, besides selling coffee and artisanal bread online to support their providers, are offering discounted, pre-paid time at their coworking cafe to be used at a future date. This kind of pre-paid business can really help a small business struggling now. Buying gift certificates for your favorite shop or restaurant is a great way to ensure they’re there in the future.

Culinaria Mexicana has put together an extensive list of restaurants around the country that are selling gift certificates.

For musicians that make their living playing for crowds, empty bars and restaurants make their situation dire. In response, local artists are taking their music online. Pitayo music, an independent jazz label based in Mexico City, is offering online jazz concerts to support its musicians. For the price of the ticket viewers also get to tap into the deals of the month from local sponsors of the concert – discounts and free stuff. They are also planning a benefit concert April 30 that will put money into a fund to support a whole network of local musicians.

All these are examples of ways we can support our local economy during this crisis, but there are hundreds more options if you want to contribute. Reach out to your community, support local businesses, and stay safe. We’ll see you on the other side.

Lydia Carey is a frequent contributor to Mexico News Daily. She lives in Mexico City.

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