Glenwood business community fights COVID-19 with innovative ideas
Instead of gearing up for summer, Summit Canyon Mountaineering owner Carl Moak has been negotiating with suppliers about extending payment terms and holding orders.
For the past 15 years, Moak has worked at his shop, which is now located on Sixth Street near the Hotel Colorado.
Not even in his worst nightmare, he explained, has he ever endured anything quite like the COVID-19 crisis.
“I had to lay everyone off,” Moak said. “All we can do is try to survive right now.”
DDA, city and chamber support
According to Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Laura Kirk, the DDA is working to allocate $100,000 from its budget to help downtown businesses like Summit Canyon get through the crisis.
Glenwood Springs Chief Operating Officer Steve Boyd also said the city was looking to match the DDA’s contribution with a $100,000 commitment of its own.
“We are putting every idea that comes along on the table,” Boyd said.
Each year, the city awards approximately $200,000 in discretionary and tourism grants to community nonprofits.
This year’s application deadline was extended by two weeks to April 17 for additional submissions from nonprofits focused on promoting local economic recovery.
“It may be that they prioritize economic recovery ideas over what traditionally gets funded,” Boyd said. “That’s going to be up to council.”
The financial advisory board will make grant recommendations to city council at the end of April. The grants have a target award date of May 14.
Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association President and CEO Angie Anderson said the chamber was actively sharing educational resources to help businesses better understand economic relief packages like the more than $2 trillion CARES Act.
“We’re also just continuing to promote our local businesses,” Anderson said. “And, promoting how people can support business during this time.”
On its website, the chamber has compiled a comprehensive list of takeout and delivery options to help support restaurants and bars from Aspen to Parachute. Additionally, on glenwoodchamber.com, residents can also access a spreadsheet, which lists the status of nearly 100 local businesses including restaurants, retail shops and others.
“We still have these businesses here to support, even though it’s in a different way,” Anderson said. “I think that’s more important now than ever.”
Chrissy Lee-Manes, who co-owns Homsted with her husband John Lee downtown, said they temporarily closed their storefront along Cooper Avenue beginning March 26.
Homsted, like many small businesses, has remained open online during the pandemic.
Recently, customers donated online to Homsted, which allowed the small business owners to provide hand sanitizer to the River Center in New Castle.
The local nonprofit organization hosts several community outreach efforts each year including its Life Assistance Program.
“They would go on and donate $2 to help us cover some of the costs,” Lee-Manes said. “We were able to get 60 to 70 hand sanitizers over to the River Center.”
According to River Center Executive Director Heather Paulson, many of those hand sanitizers were then donated to senior centers throughout the area.
Another local businesses, Inkswell Screen Printers, has also stayed busy during the stay-at-home order printing logos from businesses across the valley onto t-shirts.
“This is part of a bigger, nationwide campaign that a lot of screen printing shops are getting into,” Rachel Fulfer, Inkswell Screen Printers owner, said.
“Roaring for Recovery,” the local installment of the nationwide campaign, allows business owners to send their company’s logo to Fulfer, at no cost to them, to have placed on t-shirts.
For every t-shirt sold on inkswellprinting.com, $12 goes to the business whose logo was selected and ultimately printed on the shirt.
“We really wanted to do something that could reach across and help out these other small businesses, too,” Fulfer said.
One of those small businesses, Ball Brewing in south Glenwood Springs, opened its taproom and home brew supply store shortly before the pandemic.
“It couldn’t have come at a worse time, that’s for sure,” owner Bobby Ball said. “I didn’t do all of this building and put everything I had into this to just be shut down after five and a half weeks.”
The local brewer has been able to sell growlers to go and plans to film an online series about homebrewing to share in the coming weeks.
“Originally, we wanted to do classes here on the weekend, but obviously that can’t happen,” Ball said. “We’re trying to think of every avenue we can to help people and continue to bring in revenue and get through this.”
Summit Canyon’s Moak said he recently sent an email to his customers thanking them for their continued support.
According to Moak, the email’s subject line read “We’ll be back.”
“There’s no question about that,” Moak said.
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