In normal times, the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce supports local businesses in a variety of ways: networking opportunities, marketing help, community-building events.
These are not normal times.
As COVID-19 attacks the country, some of the first casualties are small businesses.
When the first line of defense is social distancing — with isolation close on its heels — the last things on people’s minds are shopping for anything beyond necessities, or dining out.
When “wash your hands!” is the new mantra, no one is in the mood to handle merchandise in a store, or be served a meal in close proximity to others.
But small businesses need customers to survive. Even a small drop in patronage can spell the difference between paying the rent, paying employees, and going under.
The Chamber is marshaling its resources to help.
They encourage Westporters to continue to shop locally. In addition, they recommend buying gift cards, to use later. You can do this not just for stores, but nail salons, yoga studios — you name it.
“This small act, if done by many, will help infuse capital to help them hold over until next month,” the Chamber says.
For residents hesitant about eating out, Chamber executive director Matthew Mandell suggests takeout orders. Most restaurants offer that option; some deliver. And there’s always Uber Eats.
Oh, yeah: Mandell reminds everyone that the Great Westport Soup Contest continues all month. There are some things the coronavirus just can’t conquer.
The Chamber also says: “If you have ideas on how to help our businesses, let us know. It takes a community to support a community.”
It’s easy. Click here for their website contact form. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Or call 203-227-9234.
PS: It’s not only small stores that are affected by COVID-19. Patagonia announced yesterday that it is closing all 37 stores — and its online operations — indefinitely.
PPS: The US Small Business Administration offers low-interest disaster loans to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury from the coronavirus. It must be requested by governors. It is unclear how far along in the process Connecticut’s request is. For more information, click here or email email@example.com.