This Valentine’s Day, why not spread love to your favorite neighborhood businesses and let them know how much they mean to you.

Sweethearts Shop Local is a new initiative that makes supporting small businesses easy, whatever neighborhood you’re in. The program was launched by 44 business improvement districts, chambers of commerce and merchants associations across the city, all with alum from the Coro NY Neighborhood Leadership program.

“The intention was to find ways to increase visibility of businesses, heighten awareness that small businesses need our support in real time and regularly, and create social media and positive review results,” North Flatbush Avenue BID Executive Director James Ellis said.

The campaign encourages consumers to shop local, order directly from business, leave reviews and tag on social using the hashtag #smallbusinesssweetie, and ultimately raise awareness of their favorite businesses.

Each neighborhood organization involved has interpreted the program to suit its residents, with the shared goal of showing love and support to community businesses that need it now more than ever.

Brooklyn has almost 20 neighborhoods participating, with some districts getting creative; Bay Ridge has a “Dating Game” and Pitkin Ave is working with a local chocolate company, Ellis said.

With small businesses from a number of industries struggling to make it through the COVID-19 pandemic, Ellis encouraged neighbors to get involved and show businesses what they meant to the community.

He encouraged people to order flowers directly from the florist or corner stand; find a new bakery and try a new dessert; search for restaurants that are doing fun “cook-at-home” meal kits; and get creative with vouchers to fitness studios or hair/nail salons and barber shops.

“But honestly, posting your favorites and tagging the business and using the #smallbusinesssweetie hashtag are free ways to show you love them this Valentine’s Day.”

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Anna Bradley-Smith

Anna Bradley-Smith is Brooklyn-based reporter with bylines in NBC, VICE, Slate and others. Follow her on Twitter @annabradsmith.

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