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How to Support Local Businesses Through COVID-19

The COVID-19 outbreak is creating anxiety in many quarters, including our local economy. Some of our local businesses have had to shut down completely. Others have closed sales floors and on-site services at places like bars, restaurants and gyms. It’s a period of anxiety for many business owners, so critical to the community.

Some Hill residents are working from home and drawing a paycheck during the outbreak. Many of these folks have asked how they can use this good position to support neighbors who own local businesses this through time of social distancing, reduced business options, and closures.

Here are some ideas for ways to help Hill restaurants, businesses, organizations and services make it to the other side of this unprecedented time:

  1. Buy gift cards. A great way to support businesses of all kinds, from restaurants to yoga studios, to hair salons to clothing shops. Check the websites of your favorite local services, from framing services like Frame of Mine to shuttered riverside restaurant The Salt Line or Angelika Pop-up movie theatre near Union Market. DC Tech People (dctechpeople.com) have started a website where you can find links to purchase gift cards from many businesses right now. It’s constantly updating. Check it out now at supportdc.com
  2. Buy Local. If you feel comfortable, visit local shops right now. You need groceries, so visit Eastern Market (222 Seventh St. SE) and Union Market (1309 Fifth St. NE, unionmarketdc.com, also offering curbside pickup) or your local YES Organic (410 Eighth St. SE) rather than going to Amazon. Still celebrating at home? Groovy DC is open with cards, balloons and gifts (321 Seventh St. SE, www.groovydc.com). Don’t forget your local convienent corner store grocers.
  3. Buy local online. Many local shops have online stores where you can order items. Summit to Soul (727 Eighth St. SE, www.summittosoul.com) has a collection of comfy clothing, outerwear and accessories. Satisfy your sweet tooth by ordering from Capital Candy Jar online (thecapitalcandyjar.com) or thru GrubHub. Many make sales through social media sites as well –fashion and accessory shop C.A.T.walk Boutique (1000 H St. NE, thecatwalkdc.com) offers stylish clothing and more via their Instagram account @c.a.t.walk_boutique

    Well, Easter IS Coming, and Cherry Blossoms are here. Reasons to celebrate with Candy: Screenshot/ TheCapitalCandyJar.com
  4. Use curbside delivery at local shops. Businesses have taken the precaution of closing their shop floors, but many have created curbside pick-up services. Just call or email the shops to place your order, then call when you pull up and they’ll bring your stuff to you (some even suggest pop the trunk or open a window). You can use this service to get books from shops like Solid State DC (600 H St. NE, com, 202-897-4201) and East City Bookshop (eastcitybookshop.com, 202-290-1636) to get games from Labyrinth Puzzles & Games (labyrinthgameshop.com, 202-544-1059), to get pet food and supplies from Howl to the Chief (howltothechief.com, 202-544-8710) or to get hardware supplies from Frager’s (1115 Pennsylvania Ave SE, info@acehardware.com, 202-543-6157). The Daily Rider (600 H St NE, thedailyriderdc.com, 202-396-0704) is offering limited repair services as well. Call or text them, tell them what’s up and they’ll give you instructions where to leave your bike.

    Courtesy Arena Stage.
  5. Use online services for exercise, play and entertainment (and send $$$!): If you didn’t know what Zoom was before you learned about COVID19, this is the time to learn abou the online conference and meeting service. Many exercise and yoga studios are offering online classes, many through Zoom, including Hot Yoga Capitol Hill (com), East Side Yoga (eastsideyogadc.com), H Street’s Core Power Yoga (corepoweryoga.com)and Southwest’s District Flow Yoga (districtflowyoga.com). You can participate in free workshops with Rose Physical Therapy Group (1015 Half St. SE), or book video conferenced physical therapy (rosept.com/book-appointment). Participate in guided playdates for preschoolers with the early childhood educators with play-space design team grOH! (grohplayrooms.com). While most theatres have suspended performances, Arena Stage has put their Arena Stage’s Civil Dialogues conversations online (https://bit.ly/3bbxvsk). We Happy Few Theatre Group (wehappyfew.com) had to cancel performances The Count of Monte Cristo, but you can find a one-minute summary of the plot points on YouTube.
  6. Order food by delivery and for pick-up. Many Hill restaurants are offering take away and delivery, either direct or via Uber EatsGrubHubDoor Dash, and Caviar. There’s an updating online list on Hillrag.com but check with your favorites even if they’re not included. You can directly support workers via Venmo through the Virtual Tip Jar. The Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) has established a Coronovirus Worker Relief Fund. You can donate here.
  7. Help organizations helping people. Nonprofit Martha’s Table has pledged more than $300,000 to assist local families and is distributing $15-per-day grocery-store gift cards.  Miriam’s Kitchen and The Capital Area Food Bank are also raising money to help families, and Hill nonprofit Everyone Home DC continues to help those experiencing homelessness. Hill resident Allison McGill is organizing neighbors willing to run errands for those who should not be leaving their home (elderly, folks with preexisting conditions). Share your information on McGill’s online form at COVID-19 Response-Serve Your Neighbor or by emailing McGill at alli@thetabledc.org
  8. Eastern Market Main Street (EMMS) also recommends we check in with the owners of favorite businesses. “ask how you can help, or let them know you are thinking about them (it’s the little things that mean a lot),” EMMS wrote in a message.

Finally, practice social distancing. As one Twitter user put it, the point is not to act like everyone else has COVID-19 –the point is to act like you have the Coronavirus and you don’t want to give it to anyone. You can get current advice and data from DC Health via coronavirus.dc.gov, but the basics remain the same: Cover your mouth with your elbow when you cough or sneeze, stay home if you feel sick, stay 6 feet from others to avoid transmission and avoid congregating in non-essential groups.

We will get through this: by pulling together, even as we keep more than six feet apart.

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