How to Support Local Businesses in the Iowa City Area Despite COVID-19

Ten days ago I was sitting in a full auditorium with six other family members watching my 7-year-old in his first grade musical. We celebrated with ice cream afterwards at Jon’s Ice Cream, our favorite local ice cream shop right in Tiffin. Oh, how quickly the world changed.

Now I find myself asking, “how can I support local businesses in the Iowa City area during this crisis?”

One of my favorite things about the corridor area is the presence of so many locally owned businesses. It’s so much of what defines our community. What makes us unique. What makes us, us.

As social distancing and isolation picked up, so did my anxiety about the financial health of the Iowa City area businesses that I love so much. These businesses belong to our neighbors, friends, and family members — and they need our support more now than ever. We can help.

An image of shopping small. How you can support small businesses in the Iowa City area during COVID-19.

How to Support Local Businesses in the Iowa City Area:

Order Take Out From Local Restaurants

Many of your favorite locally owned restaurants are currently offering special menus as part of their take-out, curbside pick-up, or delivery models. Many are also delivering themselves or utilizing Iowa City’s own local delivery service, detailed below. Give your favorite business a call or check their website and social media to see if they are operating and order from them.

Use CHOMP for Restaurant Delivery

Avoid the national delivery services. If you want delivery, use CHOMP Delivery, Iowa City’s own locally owned delivery service. It is operated by 20 local restaurant owners, and features more than 120 local restaurants. Try to tip your driver a little extra if you can.

Shop Groceries, Clothing, and Supplies Locally

Many local retailers are offering sales through their websites and social media. Before heading to a big box store, try to support local businesses that offer the same services, first.

The Iowa City Downtown District (ICDD) is offering a special incentive for downtown Iowa City businesses. For every $100 spent online or over the phone at participating downtown businesses, the ICDD will provide another $25 as a gift card. For every $500 spent, you’ll receive a $150 gift card. Start shopping! Fill out this form to participate.

Purchase Gift Cards

Support your favorite businesses now and use the gift card once they re-open. By purchasing now, you are giving your favorite mom and pop shop, hair salon, gym, and more, much needed cash flow to help them survive right now.

Write a Review

We all know how important this is for our small businesses. Write a Yelp or Google review to help during this time.

Share, Share, Share

Share social media posts from businesses that are still offering service. Also, share business owners social media updates to help spread the word. Tag your favorite businesses in your own social media posts to help advertise them to your own network of local friends and neighbors.

Gyms and Fitness

Many local fitness facilities are offering online workouts. Be sure to check the social media pages of local gyms and recreation centers and share videos and graphics of workouts with your networks on social media. If you need supplements or protein powder, also call or email your local gyms to see if you can buy from them directly.


Contact a local florist and send flowers to a friend to help brighten their day. If delivery is not available, see if you can arrange touchless pick-up and deliver the flowers to your friend’s door step.

Finding ways to support our local Iowa City area businesses may require some creativity and thinking outside-the-box, but it can be done safely and successfully during this uncertain time.

What are you doing to support your favorite local business?


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