It’s up to us
Our lives have changed dramatically over the last ten days. We’re approaching our lives differently to protect our own health, our family’s health and the health of those around us. We’re rethinking daily routines—perhaps you’re working from home, practicing social distancing, not attending public events or stockpiling canned goods and cleaning products.
Now, think if you’re a downtown merchant or restaurant. Twenty-five percent of the town’s population has left with the college’s suspension of classes. And, the other 75 percent of us are most likely changing our routines. Merchants were already anxious about surviving the construction-related closures this summer. Now this. It’s up to us, as a community, to support the viability of our downtown.
Let’s start by thinking differently about how we shop in Middlebury. Every Main Street store can take orders over the phone. Many of them have an online presence (a more secure method than phone) and can fulfill orders via the Internet. See list of local online retailers at bottom of page. The Vermont Book Shop is offering curbside pick-up and delivery within the 05753 zip code. They probably won’t be the only retailer offering this kind of service. Support your favorite restaurants by ordering takeout instead of dining in if that’s what you feel most comfortable doing.
In the midst of all this panic, you’ll read in the news and on social media that Middlebury’s businesses and their employees are implementing procedures to reduce the transmission of the virus such as wiping down credit card terminal keypads, thorough and frequent handwashing, as well as sanitizing menus and condiment holders.
For the time being, it’s business as usual in downtown. We’ve surveyed stores and as of right now, all of them are maintaining their current business hours and staffing levels. An immediate step you can take is to call/go online and purchase a gift certificate that can be used later—this will benefit a small business’s cash flow.
The three organizations concerned with Middlebury’s economic health, Addison County Chamber of Commerce, Addison County Economic Development Corporation and Better Middlebury Partnership, met this week and are brainstorming ideas that will support merchants during these uncertain times.
We’ll keep you updated on any plans or changes, and please contact us if you have suggestions on how to best support our local businesses and downtown’s vitality.