This is an uncertain time for everyone. Whether you think the world is overreacting to the spread of Coronavirus, or are fully prepared to hunker down for the next few weeks, one thing is clear: the recommended precautions and rising fear mean visitation and purchases at your favorite local businesses (like wineries) are about to severely slow down.
Many of the staff members who keep your favorite stores, wine shops, and wineries running are not salaried employees who can work from home and continue to be paid like normal. Much of their work depends on the in-person, face-to-face contact that we are now seeing public health officials strongly discourage in order to prevent spread of the disease to our more vulnerable friends and neighbors.
That means that people who work at your surrounding local businesses, especially in the hospitality and wine industries, are about to be hit hard with low sales and revenue. Here are some of the best ideas I’ve seen to help support businesses during this rapidly changing and uncertain time:
Visit Wineries and Local Businesses That Remain Open
UPDATE (as of Mon. 3/16/20): Given recent closures and city guidance (including the closures of both of my company’s wineries) I’m no longer recommending going to restaurants, bars, and wineries. As much as we want to continue supporting the service and hospitality industries during this very scary time, to do our part, we must comply with social distancing recommendations. Keep scrolling for other ways to help your favorite local businesses!
Order Wine and Other Local Products Online
You can still support local businesses and wineries from the comfort of your couch. Many of your favorite wineries and local stores likely sell their wine online, and some are even offering shipping deals in light of social distancing recommendations. In many cities, wine can be shipped to you in as quickly as two days – which makes it worth shopping from your local producers instead of the mass-production wines you’ll find in the grocery store aisle.
Additionally – wineries will often let you order online and pick up your wines in person – so you can skip the face-to-face purchasing interaction but still get your wines asap.
Purchase Gift Cards Online
Another great way to help keep your local businesses going right now? Buy their gift cards. The benefits are two-fold: one – you’re supporting wineries and businesses with cash flow right away, and two – you’re setting yourself up to enjoy their offerings in the future, when this viral mess is over. Treat yourself, and your local businesses!
Be Flexible and Understanding with Service Staff
Finally, please be understanding as business practices evolve and adapt at your favorite local spots. No business owner woke up in January and set out to craft a fool-proof pandemic plan for this year. We’re all figuring out how to handle Coronavirus as we go – as individuals, families, employees, and business owners. In all your dealings with businesses during this time, whether in-person or virtual, please be respectful and patient as you’re being served.
Meaghan Webster is currently Marketing Manager at First Batch Hospitality, the group behind urban winemaking and events at Brooklyn Winery in NY, District Winery in DC, and the soon-to-open RiNo Point Winery in Denver. The advice shared here is solely Meaghan’s opinion based on her own expertise, and does not reflect the opinion(s) of her employer.
An experienced wine and food photographer, social media manager, and designer, Meaghan formerly worked as a marketing consultant for wineries and restaurants in DC, Virginia, Napa and NY. Learn more about her work at meaghanwebster.com or see her latest work and tips at instagram.com/meaghanwmarketing.