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Longmont businesses help each other survive the pandemic

Trading competition for community
Longmont Strongmont
Posted at 5:34 AM, Jul 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-06 07:38:25-04

LONGMONT, Colo. — We all know businesses rely on their customers. But in recent months, businesses in downtown Longmont have increasingly relied on one another to navigate the challenges of the pandemic.

Since March, business owners have done everything from lending supplies to one another to sharing information on grants and assistance programs.

“We had an emergency meeting with the Longment Downtown Development Association and all the operators and sat down and had a roundtable discussion,” said Nick Reckinger, co-owner of Georgia Boys BBQ restaurant.

Reckinger said the business owners created a network of email addresses and phone numbers and agreed they would stay in touch and help each other.

“When somebody would have a problem, another operator would jump in right away with a solution,” Reckinger said.

Early on, some businesses encountered problems with the supply chain. Tamar Hendricks, owner of Crackpots pottery studio wanted to make take-home pottery kits for customers while her space was closed. But she couldn’t find any paint kits.

“None of our suppliers had them anymore,” she said.

Hendricks reached out to the local restaurants and Georgia Boys BBQ came to the rescue.

“They used one of their suppliers to help us get the little one-ounce condiment cups and that kept us going,” Hendricks said.

James Ross, owner of Rosalee’s Pizzeria, was able to stay in business during the stay-at-home order by transitioning to take-out. But then, his freezer broke down.

“There’s always equipment breaking in every business, especially restaurants,” Ross said.

Fortunately, he had developed a relationship with Georgia Boys BBQ, and they allowed him to use some of their extra freezer space.

As the restrictions began to loosen, Jefe’s Tacos and Tequila owner Sean Gafner wanted to expand seating onto the sidewalk. But he needed tables. The business community answered his call.

“All the tables and chairs we actually got for free from another business that was trying to get rid of some furniture, so they gave us 18 tables and 30 chairs, and that saved us $10,000,” Gafner said.

Beyond just sharing equipment, business owners say these new relationships have helped them survive the emotional ups and downs of the pandemic.

“Just to know that other people were going through the same thing — it helped you have a level of patience,” Hendricks said.

Longmont Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Kimberlee McKee said it brought her to tears at times to see how much business owners were willing to help each other.

“Folks who years ago you thought, 'Oh, they’re competitors and probably don’t like each other' — it was really we all rise, or we all fail,” she said.

Ross said he believes downtown Longmont will be stronger than ever when they emerge fully from the pandemic. All the business owners Denver7 talked with said they're looking forward to main street returning to the vibrant place it once was.

"It takes all of us to have a successful downtown, and a cool downtown, which we have," Reckinger said.