Local business unleash their creativity in uncertain economic times

Free roll of toilet paper included with order

By Kendra Walker

Since Gunnison County’s Public Health Order was issued last week to help flatten the curve of COVID-19 cases, requiring many stores in town to close their doors, send employees home or operate on a strict take-out/delivery-only service, numerous businesses have unleashed some creative methods for keeping their operations alive while navigating an uncertain economic future for the Gunnison Valley.

Clark’s Market remains open to customers, having no restrictions from the health order, but has initiated a senior shopping hour from 8 to 9 a.m. every day for residents 60 years of age and older. Other restaurants limited to a take-out/delivery operation have found other ways to reach the community. McGill’s has kept a sense of humor, including a free roll of toilet paper with food orders.

Secret Stash owner Kyleena Falzone is offering a tapered-down menu and pizza survival kits, with which folks can make their own pizza at home from ingredients provided by Secret Stash. “I always wanted to do these pizza kits,” said Falzone, and after sharing her extra remaining pizza dough with the community last week, she knew this was the perfect opportunity to regroup. “We got about 40 photos [of handmade pizzas] and it made me super happy,” she said. “This will be super fun to deliver to people and something for people to look forward to.” Falzone also says pre-orders will be extremely helpful for her small staff of four as they prep for the limited weekend hours.

“Most of our restaurants have gone to creating a very minimal menu and putting it up on their website, which is something we highly recommend,” said Crested Butte/Mt. Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce executive director Ashley UpChurch. “It just helps restaurants not have to buy as many supplies from their vendors and you can run on a much shorter staff, shortening your hours as well.”

Other local businesses not in the food industry are doing their part to help out the community. Sea Level Spa is offering free oxygen treatments to people feeling coronavirus symptoms. And a lot of retail stores are offering FaceTime shopping tours of their stores, or Instagram sales, said UpChurch.

Townie Books has been posting photos of its various book sections on Facebook to advertise online book orders and curbside pick-up.

Buff’s Collision Specialists in Gunnison is letting people call and schedule photo estimates of the work needed on their car, to minimize the number of people coming by in person.

Mountain Tails is accepting call-in orders for curbside pickup, and has moved much of its merchandise into the storefront for easy window shopping to help people and their pets keep stocked up on bones, treats and cat toys.

Local yoga, Pilates and dance instructors are offering free instruction and classes online right now.

Several gyms in town, including CORE and Synergy, are offering virtual workout classes. Synergy owner Carrie Joe Chernoff-Hicks started delivering the gym’s equipment to members and allowing folks to take equipment home. “I have people taking home bikes and barbells, whatever they can use in their homes to stay moving,” she said. Chernoff-Hicks has also started a Synergy Athlete Remote Workout Facebook group that anybody can join for both adult and kid virtual workouts, also available on the Synergy website. “Our community could really use some things to stay moving and keep going right now,” she said. And while anybody can join the classes for free right now, folks can make a donation and be entered into a weekly drawing for gift cards Chernoff-Hicks has purchased at local businesses, to pay it forward.

The Crested Butte/Mt. Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce also continues to keep an updated list of open and closed businesses on its website, and has gathered an updated list of relief options for businesses and employees, which can also be viewed on the chamber’s website. UpChurch reminds the business community to reach out to her for daily email updates, regardless if you have a Chamber membership or not. “I am willing to send these daily updates to any businesses,” she stresses.

The ICELab has also created weekly industry subgroup Zoom meetings for businesses to discuss the major issues they are currently facing and potential solutions. “That’s been going phenomenally well,” said UpChurch. “I think we have a structure in place that’s really going to help our businesses navigate potential solutions and get those ideas to agencies that could potential implement solutions.”

The subgroups include the following industries, but non-profits are invited to join any of the group as well; outfitters and guides, retailer/services, lodging, early childhood, contractors, manufacturing and restaurants. Businesses interested in joining these weekly discussions can find more information on the Gunnison County COVID-19 update page under the Business Resources tab: www.gunnisoncounty.org/938/Coronavirus-COVID-19.

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