In a time of crisis such as this one, there are always angels – or at least people with really good ideas – who materialize where needed most. Please take a moment, if you haven’t already, to visit AshevilleStrong.com and LoveHendo.com. These websites are two good resources that have grown out of this bad time.
On both sites, find categories for food, beverage, hospitality, wellness, professional services, farming and agriculture, experiences and tours, and artists and crafters. The sites suggest ways – the most important being the purchase of gift cards – that you can support businesses during these times in which they have had to shut their doors and lay off employees.
“When the good people used their creativity to create AshevilleStrong,” says owner of American Folk Art & Framing Betsy-Rose Weiss, “it was such a great idea for understanding that we want to keep going. We are glad to be acknowledged by AshevilleStrong and we will be grateful beyond measure when someone gets ahold of us and buys a gift certificate.”
A similar initiative in Hendersonville is LoveHendo. Among those who signed up was Karen Kennedy, owner of Firefly Craft Gallery in Flat Rock. She, like others, is offering virtual visits and the chance to purchase many of the gallery’s unique, local crafts online. “LoveHendo has been a great way for customers and merchants to work together to sustain our businesses during these times,” says Michele Sparks of Art MoB Studios & Marketplace, where she has launched Window Shopping 101. “While social distancing and walking your dog,” she says, “you will be able to come by our four large windows and find art for sale. If you need a pick-me-up or a birthday gift, we are here to help out.” Online shopping is also available.
In Brevard, Sun Dragon Art & Fiber wants to keep hands busy creating during the homebound hours many find themselves trying to fill. Owner Rebecca Smith is offering free shipping on call-in orders, free Facetime or Zoom shopping sessions by appointment, one-on-one lessons through Zoom and virtual knitting groups.
Among those hardest hit by the restrictions for doing business have been the many, many beloved Western North Carolina restaurants. Asheville Independent Restaurant Association (AIR Asheville) has a frequently updated link to AIR Asheville restaurants that are offering take-out, delivery and/or curbside pick-up. The website also contains resources for restaurant owners as they navigate these troubled times. Find this valuable information at AirAsheville.org. AshevilleStrong.com and LoveHendo.com list restaurants for whom gift card purchases and virtual “tip jar” additions are most welcome at this time. In addition, New Belgium Brewery has launched a Brewing Bar & Restaurant Relief Fund for laid off and furloughed workers in Asheville and in Fort Collins, CO. To find out about donating to the relief effort that promises grants of $350 to qualified applicants, visit NewBelgium.com/gives.
Everyone knows that, besides a great place to find excellent restaurants, Asheville is also known as Beer City, with the plethora of breweries stretching beyond to Brevard, Black Mountain, Hendersonville and many smaller towns as well. April’s celebration as NC Beer Month has been postponed and taprooms are closed for the time being, but NCBeer.org has a COVID-19 NC Beer Finder on its homepage that lists, by geographical location, breweries all over the state that are working to quench thirst with take-out and carry-out, limited to-go orders, gift cards, delivery and curbside pick-up.
“I hope we all remember to support small businesses to help them make it through these tough times,” says Elise Olson, owner of On The Inside Lingerie in West Asheville. “Having a brick-and-mortar shop that comprises almost all of my business, to have to close my doors for an undetermined amount of time is scary.” She has gone back to the business model she used when she first began her business designing and creating handmade lingerie: selling online (OnTheInsideLingerie.com). She also offers gift certificates for use online or in the shop – for the longed-for day when shop and restaurant owners everywhere turn those signs to OPEN and greet customers with smiles.