We are experiencing a highly fluid situation that changes hourly. This is a hard time for area families, community groups, and businesses. Small, independent businesses operate on tight margins. A few slow days is alarming but a few slow weeks (or temporary closures) can be devastating. It is up to us to pull together as a community to stay healthy and safe while also keeping our small businesses going. They are the backbone of our community – supporting nonprofits, employing locals, and keeping dollars in our own community.
If you are feeling powerless and want to help, here are some actions you can take now:
- Buy gift cards directly from downtown businesses (not Chamber Dollars). This helps keep them going today even if you can’t shop or eat there until tomorrow. http://shop.visitashland.net/15-chamber-store
- Donate to local nonprofits – especially those that have to cancel fund-raising events. Don’t wait for end-of-year giving. Generally, nonprofits have unpredictable cash flow because we earn money from sponsors, donors, events, merchandise sales, or grants – there aren’t always guarantees on how much money will come in or when.
- Eat and shop local. Fight the urge to buy from national online retailers. Think about how your life would have normally flowed this week and try to support those same businesses in a slightly different way. Buy gift cards or use takeout options (see our continually updated list here). Many businesses are offering delivery or pickup for online or call-ahead orders for food and merchandise, even ones that don’t normally offer this service!
- Keep up with downtown businesses – Follow your favorites on Facebook, instagram, or twitter.
- Practice generosity
- Get ready to eat and buy local when this passes. Businesses need you to stay open. When the time comes for us to go out & celebrate, let’s look forward to going big! Let this season of life apart grow love for your city and a generous heart for the businesses that make our community wonderful.
WAYS TO HELP FOR FREE
- LIKE your favorite small business on social media
- COMMENT on their posts
- SHARE their posts with your friends and networks
- Be sure to visit their pages to see posts that you may have missed on your newsfeed! Commenting on and sharing posts significantly increases their reach and visibility so more people will see them
- Also, check in with small business owners and employees to see how they’re doing. Over 90% of our business are locally owned, so they are your friends and neighbors. A little love and a few words of encouragement can go a long way!
What the Ashland Chamber is doing now:
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- We’re sending frequent updates with information and resources to downtown businesses. And we are surveying them to assess their needs & how we can respond. If you are a downtown business/church/organization, email us if you want to be added to our list (email@example.com)
- We’ve created web pages that identify where you can get delivery/take-out/easy pick up, deals/specials/promotions, and other info for customers of businesses to stay updated.
- We’re monitoring responses from other communities and similar organizations to ours. If there is a great idea out there that we can rip off & duplicate, we are ready! We are also sharing our best practices with our colleagues around the nation.
- We are reassessing how we work to find the best ways to help the Ashland community. Feel free to send ideas or examples of what other towns are doing.