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COVID-19 Community Response Roundup: Virtual Cash Mobs & Remote Farmers Markets

April 30, 2020 | COVID-19 Community Response Roundup: Virtual Cash Mobs & Remote Farmers Markets | By: Abby Armato, Communications Coordinator, NMSC |
Examples of the May Flower Initiative from Downtown SLO in the windows of the San Luis Obispo Visitor Center, the Black Sheep Bar and Grill, and the Sock Drawer. (Photo credit: Downtown SLO)

The COVID-19 Community Response blog series features ideas and approaches that local Main Street America programs are taking in response to the pandemic. We will be posting these roundups frequently throughout the duration of the crisis. To view the full collection of roundups as well as access our robust collection of coronavirus-related resources, please visit our COVID-19 Main Street Resources webpage.

Virtual Cash Mobs. Giving the Home Shopping Network a run for its money, Raton MainStreet in Raton, New Mexico, is hosting online cash mobs for local businesses. In a brilliant collaboration with several local partners, this Main Street program is using Facebook Live to host a QVC-esque event. Twice a week, this coalition goes to a downtown business and shows items from around their store live. Each item is tagged with a number so shoppers can quickly indicate which items they want to purchase. Shoppers can then use PayPal, Venmo, or other such apps to make the transaction. The business then works with the buyer to find time the next day for curbside pickup. The most recent sessions have netted more than $2,000 for each of the businesses that have participated. Read more about this initiative.

Free Meals to Students. Working with a local restaurant and their local United Way, the Downtown Hays Development Corporation in Hays, Kansas, has been serving free meals to students in their community. The local school’s service was shut down when an employee tested positive for COVID-19. Since then, Downtown Hays stepped in to serve hundreds of meals. Lunches have ranged from crispy chicken sandwiches with apples and a snickerdoodle cookie to pulled pork sandwiches with green beans and Mac and Cheese. These nutritious meals are being served by volunteers wearing facemasks and gloves to students through car windows. Check out this bird’s eye view of the event.

Shop in Place. Livermore Downtown in Livermore, California, is hosting its second pandemic-era virtual shopping event: the “Friday Night Triple SIP.” What does SIP stand for? Shelter In Place, Sip In Place, and Shop In Place. The Main Street program has organized several downtown businesses to go live using Facebook Live on Friday night. Residents are encouraged to watch these live events to see what items are available for purchase. Livermore Downtown will record and post all videos on their webpage for future viewing and future SIP-ing.

Tip Your Server. Between the COVID-19 crisis and an earthquake in March, it has been a difficult month for Salt Lake City, Utah. In collaboration with Mayor Erin Mendenhall and actor Ty Burrell (of Modern Family fame), Downtown Salt Lake City Alliance has launched a new crowdfunding campaign to support those in the hospitability industry. The Tip Your Server program provides financial relief to those in the food community who have been impacted by either or both crises. Business owners can submit up to five displaced workers to receive this financial support.

Remote Farmers Markets. Downtown Lee’s Summit makes continuing to shop at their classic farmers market easy. With advice from national, state, and local health officials, the opening day of the Downtown Lee’s Summit Farmers Market had to be postponed. Instead, the Main Street program set up a virtual market on their webpage. This page lists the current offerings from market vendors: available items, delivery options, how to order, and contact information.

May Flower Initiative. Downtown SLO is ushering in the arrival of May with a new event: the May Flower Initiative. Starting this weekend, the windows of businesses in downtown San Luis Obispo, California, will be filled with flowers and floral patterns designed by local artists. With particular focus on livening up vacant storefronts, the intent of this new collaboration between business owners, local artists, and property owners is to, "develop a visual, vibrant experience for people to view safely from cars or bicycles, to remind people that Downtown is a vibrant center for creativity and commerce, and that it will be opening once recovery begins, whenever that time comes." Learn more about this initiative
4_30_CommunityRoundup_BlogImage.pngThe Downtown SLO office and team, including their mascot bear, Downtown Brown, all wearing masks. (Photo credit: Downtown SLO)

We look forward to sharing more Main Street community responses. Please fill out this form if your community has implemented an idea or approach you'd like to contribute.

Disclaimer: This material has been prepared for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for legal, insurance, liability, tax, or accounting advice. You should consult your own legal, insurance, tax, and accounting advisors for guidance on these matters.