As sweeping restrictions in Ohio close nonessential businesses and prevent in-restaurant dining in order to slow the spread of COVID-19, the Short North Arts District finds its streets emptier than usual.
Though shop doors closed and restaurant tables became vacant after Gov. Mike DeWine issued a stay-at-home order March 22, consumers still have the opportunity to support more than 100 local businesses through a webpage created by the Short North Alliance, Betsy Pandora, executive director of the nonprofit organization, said.
“There is not a single segment of our business community that this crisis is not touching, from the hotel and tourism industry and our convention center down to some of our smallest business owners,” Pandora said. “Every single person is being impacted by this, and it certainly is a deep concern.”
The webpage includes links to the Short North’s shops and restaurants, as well as galleries with price inquiries and opportunities to donate to local businesses.
The service couldn’t come soon enough for struggling shops. Pandora said pedestrian traffic in the Short North has decreased by almost 50 percent, and it is expected to keep falling.
One of the businesses included on the website is Prologue Bookshop. Owner Dan Brewster said the shop’s online store has seen more sales and visitors than normal.
“We still need as much support as we’re able to get because we know that the major retailers are going to get through this just fine,” Brewster said. “And it’s the small businesses that are the ones that are going to get hit.”
Brewster said he hopes continued support from the community will maintain the strong online sales.
“We are very thankful for the support of the community during this time. People have really stepped up and supported us, and we are excited and hopeful that we’re gonna just continue to move forward with this,” Brewster said.
Online shopping isn’t the only way consumers can experience the Short North while at home. Pandora said businesses are participating in a virtual gallery hop April 4, which can be accessed via the Short North’s Instagram page.
“You’ll get to see gallery owners talk about artwork in their galleries, interviews with artists, performances by some of our favorite street performers that you would normally see on High Street at Gallery Hop, and many, many small businesses sharing about the fun and creative things they’re doing while we’re living through this time,” Pandora said.
More information about supporting the businesses of the Short North can be found on its website.