2020 was obviously a surprise to all of us. Like many of our merchants downtown, our world completely changed. The DDA set aside normal practices and worked to help downtown through the pandemic.
First, we established a weekly zoom call with all of the merchants. It was a place where merchants could freely discuss challenges to their businesses being completely shut down and talk about how/when to open. We helped with online presence, social media marketing, access to all information about PPE and PPP loans, and assisted Oakland County with stabilization grants.
For fun, connection and a message to our loyal customer base, the DDA—along with Franco, our marketing firm, created a virtual events and a merchant video:
When it was deemed safe to open, we highlighted Curbside Pickup locations, continued with social media marketing and developed concepts to expand outdoor dining for our restaurants.
The DDA designed, commissioned and established the Dining Platforms for restaurants downtown with the Village Council. Thanks to the forward-thinking Village council, we were able to get approvals for outdoor dining in the parallel parking spaces in record time. Then, the DPS installed the platforms.
We also developed an Outdoor Event Policy that allowed all restaurants in the District to mobilize outdoor sales immediately, bypassing norms of the Zoning Ordinance to address an urgent need.