From live-streaming fitness classes to hosting virtual team-building events, these small businesses are tapping their creativity in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

With the novel coronavirus upending nearly every business vertical in the United States, small businesses are especially being hit hard. State and local governments have imposed restrictions, shut down establishments and understandably made it more difficult for customers to interact with many businesses in-person.

Small businesses, in turn, have moved quickly to make changes to survive and keep services relevant during this period of uncertainty. Companies are staying connected to customers in a variety of ways, including creating entirely new services, shifting how they deliver products, replacing in-person appointments with video conferences and more.

Here are nine creative ways small businesses have adapted to coronavirus concerns and challenges in their communities.

DeCicco & Sons

Grocery stores have become an important lifeline in many communities that have seen restaurants closed due to COVID-19 concerns. New York-based grocery chain DeCicco & Sons has joined a few other U.S. grocery stores that have adapted quickly and implemented new hours to address coronavirus.

The small chain has specifically set aside the first 30 minutes of each day for senior customers who are 65 years or older and the immunocompromised to shop. This means stores have room for social distancing and more room for the most vulnerable to keep their distance from people who may be sick. The chain is also changing its hours to allow extra time for its team members to restock and fully clean stores in light of the current situation.

Familiar Creatures

Familiar Creatures, a Richmond, Virginia-based advertising agency, has responded to local restrictions in their community by swiftly creating a clever website to guide locals to restaurants and breweries who are struggling. The site aggregates logos from many restaurants in Richmond and encourages people to buy gift cards from these businesses to help keep them afloat.

Justin Bajan, co-founder and creative director of Familiar Creatures, said the site and campaign will be supported with paid social media advertising and digital billboards. “We want to see our city withstand this crisis,” Bajan said. “It’s the least we can do.” Not only does Familiar Creatures’ site help local businesses, but it also shows off the agency’s skills in advertising and marketing that businesses may want to use now and after the coronavirus crisis subsides.

Grassroots Fitness Project

Many fitness, wellness, and yoga studios have begun offering live-streamed classes instead of hosting classes in person to make sure customers can still work out even while “social distancing.”

One example of this comes from Grassroots Fitness Project on the Upper West Side in New York City. The company, which is not allowed to host in-person classes under New York restrictions, has launched new virtual-based classes for kids. These 45-minute video classes are capped at eight children per class and feature a section for physical activity and a section for conversation. With New York City schools ordered closed through at least April 20, 2020, classes like this can help children stay active.

Horderly

Horderly, a professional organizing service that helps people sort their homes, has faced a difficult challenge in light of new restrictions and uncertainty around coronavirus.

Fillip Hord, co-owner of Horderly, said the 30-person company has had more than 300 billable hours canceled in the past four days. Thus, the company has needed to make changes to try to keep the company afloat, including a new virtual organizing service that was created in three days. With so many people stuck at home or working at home, the company may be able to tap the needs of those who want to organize and make more room in their homes.

Dan Martini, VP of Congressional relations and public policy for the American Bankers Association, discusses how to diversify your revenue streams during — National Small Business Town Hall by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Inc.

We want to see our city withstand this crisis. It’s the least we can do.

Justin Bajan, co-founder and creative director, Familiar Creatures

Watch Now: CO— Blueprint, 7/1

Check out the video from our CO— Blueprint event that took place Wednesday, July 1, 2020, where the panel discussed everything you need to know about planning through uncertainty.



James Corbett Studio

When it comes to city restrictions during the coronavirus crisis, New York City has implemented some of the toughest. Manhattan-based hair salon James Corbett Studio felt the need to make additions to their offerings in the past week in order to maintain its relationship with clients who are less likely to come to the salon.

On top of upping sanitation and not hosting more than five clients at a time inside the salon, the company announced new in-home house calls, video call consultations and customized color kits that can be delivered. Founder James Corbett said the company may also launch a pop-up salon in the Hamptons area of New York’s Long Island to serve his many customers that have left NYC to stay at the Hamptons during the crisis.

Moonrise Distillery

The coronavirus situation has created a hand sanitizer shortage in the United States, and, in turn, some small liquor distilleries have stepped up to create their own hand sanitizers. For example, Moonrise Distillery in Clayton, Georgia has started producing free hand sanitizer for its local community members, which creates goodwill and helps keep people safe.

“We are a community of huggers and hand shakers and we want to do our part to keep that warmth around but in as safe a manner as possible,” the company said on Facebook. Moonrise’s hand sanitizer is made from botanical gin that is infused with natural aloe vera. The company accepts donations from the community to help offset its costs as well.

Piroshky Piroshky

Seattle has been one of the hardest-hit communities in the U.S. during the coronavirus pandemic, with small businesses there struggling to make ends meet.

One Seattle bakery, Piroshky Piroshky, has taken a new approach to customer building by live-streaming from the business. This helps foster more openness and brings customers into the process of baking. The company also partnered with nearby popular business Pike Place Chowder to help it enable home delivery that it didn’t offer before the crisis.

Teambuilding

With many organizations around the country mandating or encouraging employees to work remotely, there are more opportunities than ever for companies to better serve remote workers.

Teambuilding, a fully remote company that traditionally hosts in-person events for businesses, has moved to focus on virtual team-building events instead. These include online office games, online storytelling workshops, remote lunch & learn sessions and tutorials on how to work remotely. This week, the company launched a clever new “virtual campfire” event that includes “historic ghost stories, icebreaker questions, small competitions, and real s’mores.” With remote work and isolation linked to loneliness, tailored online events seem more appropriate than ever.

For more resources from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce:

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Published March 18, 2020