DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – The owners of two small businesses in Downtown Dayton said they needed community support just to get by this year, and that was before the holiday shopping season started. Now after Christmas, they say the community came through and delivered.
Lily’s Dayton owner Emily Mendenhall said sales are still down at the restaurant, but between gift cards and take home Christmas Eve meal kits made up for some of the loss.
“People were definitely making that effort to buy those local gifts,” Mendenhall said. “As a restaurant, we don’t have a ton of things you can do gift-wise but gift cards were solid, I think they were about like normal.”
Mendenhall said she noticed people donating their bonus buy gift cards back to the restaurant, which are used for giveaways and to pay it forward in the community.
Another big help, 937 Delivers. It accounted for 30% of Lily’s business for several weeks this holiday season.
“Every single restaurant who’s participating has definitely seen the difference,” 937 Delivers Founder Shanon Morgan said.
The local co-op delivery service started on Black Friday as a way to help local restaurants without relying on 3rd party apps, which often come with costly fees to the restaurants.
They serve 11 restaurants in Dayton and deliver to a 5 mile radius, with plans to expand.
On the Phone: Shanon Morgan / 937 Delivers Founder “Anything that we can do to keep these guys open one more day is obviously something that makes me very, very happy,” Morgan said. “But the thought that we’ll be able to make them survive many years, it gets a little overwhelming at times.”
Now and Zen DIY studio also saw many of their DIY terrarium kits fly off the shelves and out of their online store.
“We actually had a good season,” co-owner Paula Willis said.
Willis said their business has adapted to the pandemic by opening online sales and virtual terrarium classes.
She said the holiday shopping season met their expectations. and they were able to hire a part-time employee.
“Where our walk-in business has slowed because primarily it was coming from terrarium workshops, DIY kits have taken up some of that margin, as well as online sales,” Willis said.
While the Christmas shopping season is over, Mendenhall said that doesn’t mean people should forget about small businesses.
The restaurant is preparing for New Year’s Eve, which is typically a big day in the restaurant industry.
Mendenhall said they will offer meal kits once again for the holiday and are planning something downsized, yet special, for in-person dining.
Since this pandemic has been tough for many, all these business owners said just sharing on social media about local businesses is a great way to show support without spending anything.