Thinking of ways to help promote the struggling Port Jeff village businesses, the Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce and Business Improvement District came up with the idea to host online video meetings between the mayor and owners to talk about what services they offer and how they’re getting by.
But what surprised Mayor Margot Garant, she said, was just how much the business community has worked not just to support themselves, but support fellow businesses and the wider community during a time of crisis.
“I’m just hearing all these wonderful stories,” Garant said. “Everybody’s trying to help each other … everybody’s finding their way to give back.”
As part of the village’s Open Today portion of their website, which displays which businesses are open and what services they offer during the ongoing COVID-19 shutdown, the videos have offered a candid glimpse into the minds of local business owners.
Many stores are offering curbside pickup, not just eateries.
Marianne Ketcham, the owner of Home Kingdom which has been a near 16-year village staple, is offering curbside pickup of its stock, with people able to look at items through the shop’s website and Facebook page.
Joey Zangrillo of Joey Z’s on Main Street said they have been doing curbside pickup as well as home delivery. While they were inspecting different locations on Long Island for pizza shops, the pandemic put a squash to that, though now that he’s making and selling pizzas in house, which have been “flying out the door.”
The Amazing Olive on Main Street has focused more on its online shop, shipping to anywhere in the country, but owner Steve Munoz and his family has also taken to doing home delivery of products from nearly anywhere on the Island to save on shipping. They have been sharing customized bottles and labels, such as one for Mother’s Day.
In a time where many businesses are threatened with huge drops in revenue, the desire to give back is proving an even greater incentive.
Kristine and Brian Viscount, the owners of the Kilwins shop on Main Street, talked about their curbside pickup. Though their preordered Easter Baskets were a success, they partnered with community members to help ship around 60 baskets full of chocolate to the Infant Jesus R.C. Church food pantry for them to hand out to people who needed it.
It has worked both ways as well. Locals who know their favorite shops are struggling have been making sure they get some business, desperately trying to make sure they stay solvent.
Debra Bowling, who owns Pasta Pasta along with her husband, has been serving their full menu seven days a week. Though she has been in her position for about 15 months, the restaurant is coming up on its 30-year anniversary. Bowling said one customer bought all the products they would have for the couple’s 50th anniversary, and each who would have gone to the party had the same meal at their own house.
“They just say thank you for being here,” she said. “It is the most amazing town with the most amazing loyal customers.”
To look at the full breadth of Port Jeff Open Today, visit portjeff.com/zoomingwiththemayor/. Businesses can email [email protected] to schedule a slot.