Be vocal, shop local. This is my battle cry in the face of COVID-19. With so many unknowns in our lives right now — other than to stay home and wash the heck out of our hands — supporting small business is one area where we can both protect the fabric of our community and regain some control.
So, how do we show our local businesses some love and make sure everyone stays safe? Here are some ideas.
GET TAKEOUT BY USING FACEBOOK
I’ll tell you one thing, the idea that I have a social obligation to eat out and not cook sounds pretty sweet to me. How to see what’s for dinner? Julie Rea, interim executive director of London Downtown, has been working nonstop on a list of what local restaurants are offering to customers during the in-person dining shutdown. Search the London Downtown page on Facebook and click on the “Carry-out and Delivery Available” post.
You can also hop on Facebook and search individually for your favorite local haunts.
Sauced, for example, has posted their menu, hours, and even a virtual bar video, from which you can peruse available pizza toppings and get more information on featured sauces.
Brandon’s Kitchen and Catering offers delivery and curbside pickup upon request and has the specials posted. This week, Chef Brandon Owens fittingly featured comfort food options, including grilled pimento cheese sandwich with applewood smoked bacon. Yum!
Weaver’s on 4th continues to offer breakfast and lunch as it’s done for more than 70 years. Except now, they offer carry-out and curbside service. Do yourself a favor and look at the photo they posted on Facebook of “Breakfast on Toast,” although don’t be surprised if you find yourself heading there immediately to gobble it up.
Mama Rosa’s, which continues to have my heart when it comes to all things meatball, offers carryout and Door Dash service. Check out their Facebook page for a look at their menu (I love you, beef and sausage bomber).
When you do go and pick up your meal, why not consider tipping a little extra? Unfortunately, our local servers, cooks and dishwashers are getting hit extremely hard right now and can use the extra help.
BUY GIFT CARDS
Sending a gift card to a friend or loved right now is the perfect little air kiss to brighten these dark days. I can just imagine everyone dropping off tiny envelopes on each other’s porches like an army of Easter bunnies; imagine what a difference that would make to local businesses!
While you’re at it, buy some gift cards for yourself to use after the crisis is over. We will all definitely be in the mood for a spree in a few months.
SHOP LOCAL ONLINE
But, if you don’t want to wait, you can do your spring shopping right now online. Posh Boutique has extremely active Facebook and Instagram pages filled with photos of potential purchases and, hello!, offers free shipping. Expect pictures of popping neon colors, as well as pretty pastels. You can also check out their website at www.poshboutiqueky.com
Pearl Apparel is likewise keeping busy with online sales. This custom apparel, embroidery and direct-to-garment printing shop (their T-shirts are crazy soft and lovely) is launching its website this week, but Pearl’s Facebook and Instagram pages are already extremely popular. Owner Kendra Smallwood said this is a complicated time, but so far, she’s making it work. “The power of social media is incredible,” she said. “Word of mouth is super important right now. We’re asking our customers to share our posts while we keep things positive and uplifting.”
SHOP BY APPOINTMENT
With prom up in the air, dress shops have been hit unusually hard in the past weeks. But they’re making adjustments. The Copper Penny Owner Kimberly Viars-Brewer, for example, said she’ll offer by-appointment shopping to high school girls still looking for a dress if they prefer it. “I get it,” she said. “I’m very fearful, as is everybody. This is uncharted territory.”
Happily, Viars-Brewer has always asked that her brides make an appointment to shop so she can give them one-on-one attention. And she encourages them to continue their wedding dress search as per usual. “It can take anywhere from three to eight months to get a wedding dress on a normal shipment,” she said. “These girls still need to be dress shopping.”
London has some truly incredible flower and gift shops (I’m looking at you, Carousel and White Lily), which are still offering the lovely option of delivery. So, why not send flowers and gifts to those special people you don’t have the option of seeing in person right now? You may even consider sending a bouquet or a gift to the homes of nurses, docs and other health care workers who are working on the frontlines right now.
Tamara Davis, Saint Joseph-London’s director of public relations and social media, said hospital patients can still receive flowers. Hospital staff members will bring the arrangements up to patient rooms.
“Fresh flowers make anybody’s day,” Carousel owner Joyce Nicely said. “It’s business as usual here.”
Also, side note, I saw on White Lily’s Facebook page that they have puzzles for sale. Yay, puzzles! I’m in the middle of a 1,000-piecer right now and, truly, it’s keeping me occupied (and away from the news) in the evenings. They also have craft and cooking kits and books for kids. White Lily is offering a curbside pickup option as well.
GET YOUR CAFFEINE FIX
Let’s face it, people, we need fortification right now more than ever. And London’s coffee houses are here to make sure we stay, well, sane. The Grind is serving its full menu, offering curbside pickup, delivery and its famous “The Buzz,” a protein shake with espresso, banana and peanut butter. All you need to do is text your order at firstname.lastname@example.org (how social distancing-friendly is that?). Owner Courtney Wagers says she’s staying positive and is thankful for her customers’ support. “Our small community can overcome this battle if we uplift each other and keep our small business circuit alive,” she said.
Sacred Grounds’ drive-thru is also open and, I might add, now offering a coconut lime frappé, which is exactly the kind of island vibe I’m looking for right now. “Even a small purchase can make a big difference,” owner Tammy Smith said. “Entrepreneurs are strong, steadfast individuals. Our local communities feed that entrepreneurial spirit. We are truly thankful for every single individual shopping with us.”
KEEP PAYING FOR YOUR APPOINTMENTS
Are you in love with your hairdresser? I am. Do you feel like your yoga instructor improves your life on a weekly basis? I do. Does getting your nails done make you feel like a princess each and every time? I’m envious. If you can afford it, keep paying for appointments — even if you can’t make them — at businesses you otherwise habitually frequent. Or buy gift cards for yourself, whatever works best for you. All of these service industries are being deeply affected by the pandemic. I promise owners will appreciate your help, and I guarantee you’ll never have trouble re-scheduling your appointment again.
So, that’s where are. A new day and a new reality. I feel such pride in our governor’s leadership right now and so much hope that we will band together in the coming weeks. Stay safe, dear readers.