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The Fig & Oak boutique. (File Photo)

ASHLAND -- Hello friends, how are you all doing out there? I have to start off by saying how amazed and heartened and happy and excited I am by the waves of support I have seen in the community as you have supported and shopped locally and downtown. 

There were lines at Downtown Perk last week, Uniontown sold out of corned beef on St. Patrick’s Day; and my Facebook feed has been flooded with people sharing their local takeout eats from our Ashland restaurants. Thank you. 

I said it before, and I’m going to keep saying it: if we don’t support our downtown now, during this crisis, we won’t have a downtown to enjoy when this crisis is over. 

Frankly, you all have been so supportive of our downtown, I would hate to see all your hard work go to waste.  Even Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted, in one of their daily updates, mentioned how important it is that we support our small businesses now so that they are there when we are past this craziness. 

We keep hearing about the balance of supporting the economy and staying safe; if half the businesses in our country are small and local businesses, and we lose them, then we lose half of our economy.

So, Sandra, you ask, how do we support our downtown (and community) peeps, if we are supposed to stay inside? Oh friends, never fear, as always, downtown has you covered.  

As we have been preaching for weeks, contact your businesses and ask how you can help.  Our retailers are sheltered at home, too, but that doesn't mean they aren’t checking their messages and Facebook and websites. I have got to tell you, seeing a “Can I buy a gift card on-line?” message would absolutely make their day.

See, you don’t have to physically shop our downtown stores -- well, right now, you can’t.  But thanks to Al Gore and his invention of the World Wide Web, you can shop and support our businesses through the magic of the internet. 

Many of our downtown retailers have websites where you can shop and have something delivered right to your door, and in these times, a something special from a downtown shop can totally brighten your day.  Good mental health is essential, too, you know.  

A gift card not only puts money in our retailers’ pockets and helps them pay the rent, it also is a little beacon of hope, that says you know one day soon you’ll be able to use that gift card downtown.  And you know, gift cards are great gifts and tokens of appreciation for all the people who are working in the public now to keep us fed and healthy and to keep our city running smoothly.

But Sandra, you may say, I would love to support my downtown businesses, but money is tight. "Hello, not working.  What can I do?"  

Ahh, friends, the power of social media is strong, and you are in a perfect position to tap into that. Get on the Facebook and Instagram and like, share, comment, review and subscribe to our local peeps. All these actions are free, can be done from inside your home and really do help our businesses. 

You may have seen our sweet downtown Bingo game we shared last week, which we conveniently made into a Facebook event.  It gives you great ideas on how to support local businesses while sheltering in place and also has a sweet prize involved. 

Don’t forget that many of our local restaurants are still open and offer take out, curbside service and delivery.  Restaurants are legit some of the hardest businesses to own and manage, so especially now, if you can, order up some food, prepared with love and safety from your friends and neighbors.

If this all seems like a lot to keep track of, never fear. We have an app.  That’s right, the geniuses at FiveForge, Josh and Kyle, took the app we were working on with them for downtown and turned it into a COVID-19 information powerhouse that is not bogged down by 10,000 posts and shares and memes -- as hilarious as they may be. 

All you have to do is go to app.ashland.life  and you’re in.  Easy peasy, and free. Want to know when Linder’s is open, because it is time for some wings?  No more wading through a million Facebook posts, which may or may not be up-to-date.  The app has it.

Ashland IT company launches Ashland Life App to consolidate communication, support local businesses

Friends, we will get through this mess and be better and stronger on the other side.  What we need to get there, though, is you.  Your support, whether through an online purchase or a share on Facebook or an order of 100 sandwiches from Joan’s Tavern will help us get to the next stage in this disease.  

When we come out on the other side, we can celebrate together downtown. And that, my friends, will be the biggest party ever.  

Stay safe, stay distant, and stay supportive.  We'll see you downtown, soon. 

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