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The pandemic has influenced everything from what people wear to how they spend their time. Given the unprecedented circumstances that Americans have experienced since March 2020, it’s no surprise that a lot of new trends were inspired by individuals’ need to stay closer to home and minimize their physical interactions with others.
With limited travel opportunities, for example, many people focused on creating memories closer to home. A number of new business opportunities and trends have emerged from this environment — here’s a look at what they are (and how you can capitalize on them).
The pandemic has inspired many individuals to find more ways to spend time outside. Picnics have always been a fun summer activity, but they’ve become more of a year-round outdoor trend during the pandemic.
Many hotels and restaurants — especially those located near public parks and other outdoor spaces — are offering customers curated takeaway baskets designed to be eaten outside. Meanwhile, planning luxury picnics and renting out picnic supplies have become viable business ventures for some entrepreneurs; their offerings for upscale picnics are proving to be a popular (and COVID-safer) option for events like baby or wedding showers, gender reveal parties, proposals, and other celebrations.
To take advantage of the trend: If you run a restaurant or catering business, try adding curated picnic boxes with outdoor-friendly foods to your menu (and publicizing them using outdoor signage and social media marketing). If you’re interested in starting up a picnic-planning or rentals business, look into investing in supplies like baskets, decorations, seating, and dishware, and establish partnerships with local caterers who can provide good prices on picnic-friendly fare.
With the pandemic constraining the number of people they could safely get together in one place, many couples postponed their nuptials in 2020. Other couples embraced what have been called micro-weddings — which are high-end events with low guest counts — or opted for small, at-home, or outdoor ceremonies and receptions.
Even as the vaccine has made pandemic-era weddings safer, many couples are still opting to host small outdoor/backyard ceremonies. In fact, some experts think that scaled-down weddings are a trend that’s here to stay.
“We’ll continue to see more elevated backyard weddings. Couples discovered that hosting an event at home has many advantages during the pandemic and saw how guests who attended these small, intimate affairs thoroughly enjoyed the relaxed and very personal space,” Darci Greenwood, owner and creative director of Greenwood Events in Whitefish, Montana, told Brides.com.
To take advantage of the trend: If you have an attractive backyard or other outdoor space with enough room to host a small wedding, consider contacting local wedding planners and offering your home as a potential venue. Or, if you excel at things like photography or flower arrangements, consider letting local wedding planners know that you offer these services for brides and grooms looking for a low-key nuptial event. You might want to update your portfolio to show examples of how you capture these special moments in a more intimate setting.
Agricultural businesses were deemed essential during the pandemic, which was great news for the 115,000 to 125,000 beekeepers across the U.S. (according to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center). The number of beekeepers may have also increased during the pandemic: According to news reports, organizations like the Queens County Farm Museum (in New York) and the Maine State Beekeepers Association have seen renewed interest in beekeeping courses and an increase in membership, respectively.
Beekeeping can be a hobby that turns into a business. Pollinating plans and selling honey jars online or at farmers’ markets are not beekeepers’ only options, either: Many beekeepers prepare and market wax products — such as candles and cosmetics — or sell specialty honey products, like pollen as a food supplement.
To take advantage of the trend: Experts recommend that novice beekeepers take a local beekeeping course to understand how to care for bees in their particular climate. A hive starter kit, known as a bee nucleus colony, will cost you between $120 and $200; you’ll also need to buy other equipment to house your bees (and invest in a beekeeping suit) to launch your efforts. If you’re interested in making beekeeping into a profit-generating business, check out this Enterprise Budget from Iowa State University. From there, you can look into local farmers markets or specialty grocery stores to start selling your local honey.
Landscaping and Gardening
With more people spending more time outside, it’s unsurprising that landscaping and gardening are booming areas of business.
According to an analysis by Freedonia Group, there are several major trends (resulting from the pandemic) that are supporting the growth of landscape product sales. One is that people are investing more in their outdoor living areas — which offer a safer alternative to crowded indoor spaces. Many individuals are also spending more time gardening and/or focusing on DIY projects since the pandemic gave people more ability to spend time (and funds) on at-home projects.
To take advantage of the trend: See if you can help neighbors in your community with their outdoor projects. On sites like Craigslist and Upwork, people regularly post listings looking for local help with landscaping or gardening work. If you’d rather work for a landscaping company — or start your own — now may be a good time: A nationwide survey conducted by the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) last year found that 60% of landscaping companies are seeing revenues that exceed pre-COVID expectations, and more than 300,000 landscaping jobs lay vacant.
Roughly 23 million American households acquired dogs and cats during the pandemic, according to a recent survey from the ASPCA. That’s led to divergent trends in the pet-service industry.
Demand for dog walking, for example, has gone down significantly (due to people being at home with more time to spend with pets). Demand for dog grooming and training is strong, however, and virtual dog training is a booming new business area.
To take advantage of the trend: Like beekeeping, dog training is an area where expertise is important. If you can train your own pet, you’re off to a good start. (Resources are available through the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen™ program.) From there, you may want to “apprentice” train other dogs in your local community and look into joining a professional organization like the Association of Professional Dog Trainers.