The COVID-19 crisis seems to have generated an eclectic marketplace of viral ideas unlike any seen before in our region. On the demand side, we have legions of people who need something but can’t get it, whether because of travel restrictions, vendor closures, shortages caused by hoarding, or supply-chain disruptions. On the supply side, we have a number of people with a desire to help, a measure of Internet savvy, and a lot of unaccustomed time on their hands.
Over the past month, these factors have collided to create a dizzying array of suggested sources to help locate and obtain objects of desire. Surely it’s only a matter of time before we can even find toilet paper easily again.
The problem right now is that there are too many places to look for information, rather than too few. Not enough time has elapsed for competition to winnow this abundant harvest and reveal the ideal go-to resources. Lists abound wherever one goes online.
You might notice in one of your town’s Facebook groups that someone has posed a question of great interest to you – let’s say, “What local grocery outlets besides the large chain supermarkets provide delivery or curbside pickup?” The responses that your neighbors have posted seem potentially helpful.
But by the time you’re ready to take some notes, the original post has migrated so far down your Facebook feed that you don’t even remember for sure what group you spotted it in. When you find it again, you suspect the hours of operation for a particular vendor might no longer be accurate any more. Our society is in a state of flux right now.
We media outlets are deeply enmeshed in this game as well. Which daily feeds of Covid 19 news and resource updates will you check? Which e-mail lists should you join? When you’ve got a specific question you want answered, how do you drill down easily through the whirlwind of recommendations? You want to support small, locally owned businesses, but where’s the most complete and user-friendly info hub to get you there?
While only time will tell which online resources will outlast the current flurry, one that just started up less than two weeks ago already has listings for nearly 300 mid-Hudson businesses. Called We’re Still Open Hudson Valley, it was created with the intent of becoming a one-stop shop for consumers looking for a particular type of business or service that’s still available. According to the guidelines, “Any brick-and-mortar business located within the Hudson Valley region of New York can sign up for a listing on our website” free of charge.
We’re Still Open is the brainchild of website developer Jeff Severson of JTS Design, Inc. in Ulster Park, who sought to create an alternative to the “information overload” currently prevailing online. He recruited Sheila Gilday of Gilday Creative in New Paltz to do the graphic design, and then Kati Haynes of Haynes Marketing + Media in Kingston to manage the marketing of We’re Still Open on social media.
All three are doing the work on a volunteer basis: “Our goal is to be a resource for the community to have one place to go to find out who’s open and how they are offering their services during these difficult times. We all live, work and volunteer in the Hudson Valley, and this is our way to use our talents to help others through this time.”
The new directory is easy to navigate. You can narrow down your results by keyword, county, town and category of product or service, as well as whether you’re looking for delivery, pickup, curbside service or online stores. Each business listing is brief and clear, telling the user what products or services are available, hours of operation, location, contact information, and links to its website and/or Facebook page.
While 300 listings sound like a lot, for a brand-new business directory, it’s by no means exhaustive. To use our earlier example of someone wanting to know what smaller groceries offer delivery or curbside pickup, on April 6 We’re Still Open would have returned the following results: in Ulster County, Hurd’s Family Farm in Modena, Mother Earth’s Storehouse and Olsen & Company in Saugerties, and Süperkrauts and Health & Nutrition Center in New Paltz; in Dutchess County, Beacon Pantry in Beacon. As word gets around and more businesses visit the website to fill out the simple application form, the database is expected to grow, Turnaround for requests to be approved and added is 24 to 48 hours.
To utilize We’re Still Open Hudson Valley as a resource, or to add your business listing, visit www.werestillopenhv.com.