DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – It goes without saying that many businesses have found themselves struggling since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. In Dayton, local officials and business owners said small businesses are facing the same reality, adding just a bit of help from area residents could keep them afloat.
“Anything we can do to support our local businesses, we’re working to do,” said President of the Downtown Dayton Partnership, Sandy Gudorf.
She said with COVID-19 resulting in unexpected and in some cases unfortunate changes, many business owners weren’t prepared to combat the losses many of them experienced recently, making the future appear cloudy.
“These small businesses, they don’t have the deep pockets of some of the chain businesses and such,” Gudorf explained. “They’ve put everything into their businesses to get them open and keep them going. So it’s harder for these very small businesses to sustain longer-term during this pandemic.”
But she said it’s these types of establishments that make Dayton what is; unique with its own midwestern personality. Johnathan McNeal is the manager of one of these unique businesses. He said the movie theater he runs wouldn’t be the same if it were located anywhere else.
“The Neon has been here over 30 years in one form or another. I’ve been here 19 years now, and Dayton is home to us.”
But in 2020, he said staying open to play the indie and foreign films they’ve put on the big screen for years has become more of a challenge.
“What’s considered a sold out show now, is instead of like 73, it’s 18 or 19 or 20 people. So we’re spending a lot more to make a lot less.”
He added, while some businesses are staying above water, others just a few blocks away are having a harder time. Losing any of them to the pandemic, he said, could alter the feel of downtown.
“Unique businesses add vibrancy and add appeal on a lot of levels, to whether it’s a shopping experience or the entertainment experience and the mind-broadening experience. Without those businesses, I think we’d be a lot more of the same.”
Gudorf and McNeal said the good news is, community members can pitch in to ensure Dayton maintains its colorful and welcoming personality.
“You can do curbside pickup,” explained Gudorf. “You can call for pickup orders. You can shop online.”
McNeal added, in visiting one business, it’s now become more convenient than ever to support others, since the city implemented outdoor patronage through Out on Fifth.
We are part of the DORA program, which is the designated outdoor refreshment area program. So you could stop here, get a popcorn and a beer after 12 o’clock any day and take that beer with you down through the Oregon District and shop any of those great stores as well.”
Gudorf added with the holiday season quickly approaching, she’s encouraging community members to patronize businesses in downtown Dayton to help keep their doors open through the pandemic. To find out more about those businesses and how you can support, click here.
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