Curbside pickups, Instagram super sales, and virtual events have become the new buzz words during the COVID-19 crisis that has deeply impacted and affected how businesses have been conducting. But many Westerly businesses, like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, have regrouped, rebounded, and even found creative and innovative ways to continue doing biz normally during this not-so-normal time. Here are some highlights on what some of Westerly’s favorite hot spots have to offer their community customers.
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With an internet browser at your fingertips, why not peruse an art gallery? Let the gallery come to you with the Artists’ Cooperative Gallery of Westerly On-Line Art Exhibition. Browse through images of some of the finest artwork from locals at the “Always open, come as you are…” on-line art exhibit. “I am constantly looking for ways for the Artists’ Cooperative Gallery of Westerly to be current using social media and keeping our customers engaged with presenting our artists online,” said Arlene Piacquadio, President of Artists’ Cooperative Gallery of Westerly. Their YouTube video presentation highlights each artist’s unique artwork and brings the gallery conveniently right to you.
Just like every business in Rhode Island, the Artists’ Cooperative is following the guidelines outlined by Governor Raimondo. The Cooperative’s board of directors has been meeting via Zoom and even though it’s been a challenge to plan their scheduled fundraisers, the gallery is discussing doing a silent auction and live video demos to engage the community. They, too are planning on how they can open safely in the near future.
Now more than ever it’s a great time to pick up a favorite read and delve into all the books that have been on your must-read list. Savoy Bookshop and Café is open for business and taking orders via their website, as well as over the phone (401-213-3900). They also offer curbside pickups Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and local deliveries to Westerly, Pawcatuck/Stonington, and Mystic, as well as free media mail shipping on all book orders if curbside or local delivery, is not an option for the customer.
A digital cup a Joe? It’s almost possible at Savoy now. And even though stopping by for your favorite hot or cold drink at the café and then settling into one of their comfy chairs is on hold, Savoy is building their virtual events program, so check out their website and Facebook page for more event info.
“Virtual events are a whole new territory for us, as well as the majority of independent bookstores across the country, so we are learning as we go!” Anastasia Soroko, Event and Marketing Manager for Savoy and Bank Square Books, said. “Generally, our virtual events are free and open to the public, but we are asking those interested in attending to preregister through Eventbrite to ensure they receive the link to the event.”
Another added feature with the virtual event is when you order the book from a virtual event, it will come with a signed bookplate similar to when you attend an event in the store and buy a book, and the author signs it.
“We do have a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds to help keep the bookstores afloat during these challenging times, and are so grateful for the generosity the community has shown to us,” said Anastasia.
You don’t have to travel far for a wine tasting adventure. Tapped Apple located in downtown Westerly is bringing their ciders and wines to you for pickup. “Having our Tasting Room closed has been a serious blow to our business,” said John Wiedenheft III, co-owner. “However one positive has been the launch of our online ordering! Check out our newly enhanced website and find us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.”
Tapped Apple has seven wines available for bottle sales: Watch Hill White, Respect the Elder, Hoposite Attraction, Light my Fire, Pomme D’Amour, Sweet Temptation, and their best seller Cerise Noir. They also have an Apple Ginger wine that is a favorite as well as their hard ciders also available in growlers. And their wines and hard ciders are vegan and gluten-free.
“Until we resume our normal business, we continue to create new products and improve the products already on the menu,” said John.
Tapped Apple is looking forward to the return of musician Steve Hartmann, from Vermont to their venue on June 27. Steve will be their first musical act live at their High Street location once Rhode Island is back to open for business. Check out their Facebook page for impromptu live streams by Big Lux and Sarah LuAnn Thompson from the Tapped Apple Tasting Room.
Keeping all the businesses connected and a great community resource is the Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce (OCC). “Amidst great uncertainty, I do know one thing for sure,” said Lisa Konicki, president of the OCC.
“This region, and the Town of Westerly, in particular, is made up of incredible people with a tremendous capacity for caring for one another and a history of bouncing back after being very hard hit.” The chamber has been working diligently in collaborating and working collectively with businesses to keep the local economy viable and alive during the past couple of months. Here’s some of what they have done:
- Launched a campaign to support member hospitality businesses and kicked it off with Take Out Tuesday
- They created a listing of businesses that are offering take-out/curb-side and delivery foods, also including breweries that can sell take out and package stores that can deliver or mail beer and wine. The comprehensive listing is on their website, circulating via social media, advertised on WBLQ, in the Westerly Sun, Stonington Community Forum and other high visibility locations.
- As a way to engage people and provide feedback, they encourage people to photograph their delicious take-out/delivery/curbside meals, tag the restaurant, deli, chocolate factory, brewery or vineyard take out and share with their friends on social media. “If people also share on our page, we will award up to five $10 chamber gift certificates each day to say “thank you” to the public for supporting small businesses during these challenging times,” said Lisa.
- Also check out the Live Shopping Event and Virtu Art Show with featured local businesses selling their commerce and doing entertaining Facebook live videos. Go to the Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce Facebook page.
“We have been tested before and we always persevere,” said Lisa. “Our collective actions in the weeks and months ahead will not only define our character they will determine our economic viability as a community.”