Melanie Hearse - 1 Apr, 2020

How to help your go-to businesses and services survive the COVID-19 shutdown

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The world may not stop turning as much as we expect thanks to the inventive ways business are adapting their offerings.

One of the key concerns around the stringent lockdown measures implemented by the Australian Government is how we will continue to keep businesses ticking over and people employed while all but essential services are closed or restricted. While the measures are necessary to halt the spread of the virus, it’s a valid concern and the impact will be felt for potentially years to come depending on how long they are required to stay in place, and aching concern is businesses will go bust, meaning unemployment will rise.

On a more positive note, in the days that have followed the lockdowns, businesses are finding creative ways to pivot their operations to stay afloat and meet their customer’s changing needs. Many a café, restaurant or retailer has moved to online ordering, deliveries and takeaway to the delight of their loyal customer base keen to support them and help ensure they’ll be back when this is all over. While the best way to find out what these outlets are doing in your area is checking out their social media or their website, we’ve rounded up a list of other clever ideas rolling out around Australia.

Freezer meals and home providores

Having trouble getting your freezer stocked thanks to the massive stockpiling of basic staples rendering many a kitchen low on supplies? Check out your local restaurants, bars and cafés social media or web pages and see if they’ll be supplementing their income with freezer meals to go or supplying local supermarkets with fresh meals and foodie treats to go (if not, enough enquiries may plant a seed.)

Markets go online

While the new restrictions on social gathering sizes well and truly put artisan markets out of operation, there are a number of areas that have pulled together to create a virtual version, allowing you to shop online and keep your favourite stallholders in business. Check out these two businesses to get you started, or look up your local option online:

Canberra Handmade Market (online)

Perth Online Market

Hardware stores

While the big boys are offering increased delivery services and in-store pick up for the moment, they also often have high out-of-stocks as people panic buy. Why not call your local hardware store instead; even if they aren’t doing delivery, many will be willing to do a “drop the box in your boot” option, and chances are they are yet to be cleared out of stock. The helpful part is, you’ll have something productive to do on your weekends rather than lament all things you can’t do – herb garden or long overdue paint job anyone?

Drive through craft breweries

Karratha’s North West Brewing Co turned their business model – and their relatively new beer garden – on its head,  transforming the space that was formerly their beer garden into what they’ve dubbed “the World’s first Drive-thru brewery”.

While it’s the first we’ve seen (though even they acknowledge their “world’s first” claim is highly speculative) expect to see plenty more renditions of craft breweries finding creative ways for contactless beer provision. And it’s a great time to try out what local brewers are crafting and expand your palate from the comfort of your backyard.

Online real-time fitness and creativity classes

Two of the leaders in the adapt-to-stay-viable pack are the fitness and creative industries, with everything from martial arts, dance and Pilates to art and acting classes being offered in real-time. How do they work? You sign up online (usually through their website or if you’re already a student or member, they’ve no doubt sent you information), check out the timetable and log on following their instructions at the set class time. You’ll be able to talk back and forth and receive instruction as you go. Not convinced it will work?

Following their first week of online classes, Sylvia Sippl, Studio Manager at Lady Velvet Cabaret says they’ve found teachers can give individual corrections very efficiently seeing all the students at once on the screen – and in same cases classes have been even more productive than usual because students can get fast and direct feedback really immediately. And with today’s tech, their app Zoom has tools that allow them to break classes into in a way they can’t in a bricks and mortar studio.

It may even be the shakeup that stays beyond the shutdowns – businesses can access clients on a global scale (for example, an artist in Denmark WA can now teach students in the UK without leaving her loungeroom) and clients can access performers, teachers and artists they’d normally be geographically unable to.

From florist to food delivery

A number of florists around Australia have switched up their offerings entirely, offering boxes of fruit and vegetables delivered from local markets – so if you have a florist you normally buy from, it may be worth checking out their social media to see if they’re doing something similar.

If your income and job is unlikely to be impacted, help others by spending as you normally would in your community and the businesses you’d like to see make it through to the other side of the coronavirus shut down – not to mention help keep their staff employed through hard times. And if you don’t have money, there are other ways to help. Leave a positive, informative review, send them a message of support, or share their posts and tag your friends and family that may be able to use the service. And remember to be patient when and if hiccups happen – we are all learning new things, so be kind.

Words by Melanie Hearse

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