One only need to walk (at a safe social distance from others, of course) the sidewalks of downtown Montpelier or Barre to see the magnitude of what has happened to our communities in just a week. Commerce is almost at a standstill except for the unseen flow of money toward rents, payrolls, insurance, utilities, and the like.
We just mailed a check to a restaurant in Montpelier at which we often have lunch. We didn’t have lunch there this week because of the COVID-19 crisis, and the amount of the check approximates what we would have spent for that lunch (plus tip). We consider the money a “thank-you,” a tip to the house, if you will, for having served us so often over the past few years. We also know our small gesture in itself will not “save” the restaurant if it cannot reopen within a reasonable amount of time.
We therefore encourage all readers of The Bridge to focus on shopping local through whatever mechanisms are available. Some restaurants have always offered takeout and delivery, and many more that have been shuttered are adapting to do so. Gov. Phil Scott just relaxed the rules on the sale of alcoholic beverages, which will allow bars to offer takeout. If you can safely do so, use takeout and delivery to help keep money flowing to these establishments.
And remember, it is not just the bars and restaurants that are hurting, although they are bearing the brunt of the crisis because they were ordered to close. The theaters are also closed, and the other merchants are suffering because of a lack of traffic. Some of them also have adapted to takeout and delivery, so if you need something, check to see if they can supply it. At the least, consider purchasing gift certificates from those establishments that offer them.
And if you feel generous in these dire times and can afford to do so, consider doing what we have done for your favorite restaurant, bar, or shop.
The owners, and most importantly, their employees need our help. They are our friends and neighbors. We must pull together as a community, otherwise much will be lost, and the Montpelier/Barre area will not look the same when this plague has passed.
Larry and Barbara Floersch, Berlin