If you haven't seen gr_support_local yet, it's time to give it a whirl. It's an easy-to-view list of local businesses and what they're offering during the Shelter in Place order. We LOVE it and wanted to get to know the person who got it up and running.
Name: Aricka Gannon
Hometown: Grand Rapids
Other roles in the community:
nI am a board member with Heartside Business Association, and a Marketing + Communications Coordinator at Via Design, an architecture and interior design firm located in downtown Grand Rapids.
Favorite/fond local business memory:
nFour years ago, I met my boyfriend, Josh, at the Winchester. It quickly became my favorite place. Each year, we go back to have our anniversary dinner (along with several drinks and meals in between).
What gave you the idea to start gr_support_local?
nGrand Rapids is special because it’s small enough to develop relationships with restaurants and their employees, and large enough to where you may find a spot you haven’t been to before. There is a lot of sentiment in our bars and restaurants, and excitement at the prospect of trying somewhere new.
The idea that this could be disrupted is devastating. I think the idea to start the account was a natural response to the lack of control. For those able to spend money on takeout or gift cards, it’s a simple and effective way to offer help in this situation. I wanted the posts to be easy to read and to the point, because when you’re faced with a crisis, you want to know how to help and you want to know fast.
What has your response been?
nGood! Beyond good. It’s exciting to see people share their experience supporting local, and even more to see restaurants overwhelmed with the business they’ve received. As the weeks have passed, the account has evolved to include retail and businesses throughout the Greater Grand Rapids area. There are a lot of industries impacted by this virus. If this account can help spread awareness and bring some support to businesses, I want to make sure all are included. As long as they are practicing safe social distancing.
What surprising outcomes have resulted from the creation of the group?
nThere were two surprises.
nOne: it was surprising how many errors I could make in a post even after double and triple-checking my information. Thank you to those who offer corrections!
Two: I started the account using my own resources –which were my social media feeds and all of the restaurants I could think of off the top of my head–but between my day job and dealing with the emotions and transitions of this crisis, I could not have posted as timely or as thoroughly without help. The success of this account is due to the people in the community messaging with updates, tagging businesses, and sharing their local finds.
So, I would say the second surprising outcome is how much I have been inspired by the compassion of the Grand Rapids community. There is a lot of pride in this area, and I hope local businesses have felt that.
What do you envision for the group long-term?
nTo be honest, there has not been a lot of long-term thought behind it. It was created to be a resource during the COVID-19 crisis and if it continues to support local businesses in the future, then that is great. However, gr_support-local has surpassed what I envisioned, and I would be happy if the account served only for this period of time.
How are you staying sane during this time of uncertainty?
nI’m thankful to be able to work from home. I schedule A LOT of video calls with friends. I call my parents more. I keep a schedule similar to life before, but with a little breathing room.
There’s fear of what could happen and of uncertainty, but there’s a lot of good happening right now and happening locally. There are organizations transforming their operations to make personal protection equipment for healthcare workers. Restaurants struggling for business have given away free meals. We’re social distancing, buying groceries for our parents and grandparents, and clapping for medical staff as they enter the hospitals each day. How often do we live through a time where the world, collectively, is working toward the same goal?
I find inspiration in that, and it’s keeping me sane. For now. Ask me in a few more weeks.