Historic Kennett Square is ready to help businesses restart strong
By Steven Hoffman
Historic Kennett Square has pivoted in response to the coronavirus pandemic and is now focusing on helping businesses prepare for a strong restart once normal business activity resumes.
“We had to transition quickly,” explained Bo Wright, the executive director of Historic Kennett Square, who just joined the organization in January. Wright explained that up until recently, the organization’s efforts had been focused primarily on economic development—attracting new businesses to the area and helping others to expand. Now, and for the immediate future, the emphasis is on providing assistance to the small businesses that have been hit hardest by the cumulative effects of the pandemic. Those small businesses are vital to the Kennett community.
“In this uncertain and difficult time, one of the most hopeful things we can do is to make conscious consumer choices that invest in preserving our community,” Wright explained. “Small businesses and merchants are much more economically vulnerable than big box stores and mega online retailers, but the good news is that together we can make a difference.”
Kennett Square has a diverse group of businesses that are led by entrepreneurs and experts in their fields. They are the ones responsible for the extraordinary variety of small businesses in Kennett Square—including restaurants, shops, galleries, cafes, salons, barbershops, fitness and wellness facilities, breweries, a beer garden, a co-working space, and more.
Wright said that it’s especially important to remember the power of buying local now. Supporting local businesses will help Kennett Square maintain the unique character and social fabric of the town that so many people find appealing. Many local stores are offering online shopping, curbside pickup, and even free local delivery. Some of the restaurants in town are offering special take-out menus.
Another small act that can make a big difference is buying local gift cards—for yourself to use later or to give as gifts.
Nick and Melinda Winkler, owners of the new Work2gether co-working space on State Street, have put together a gift card initiative that combines critical support of businesses with great value for consumers. The gift card initiative is named Kennett Strong, and it enables people to support local businesses at a critical time.
Wright said that Historic Kennett Square will also be taking a leading role in is directing small business owners to the resources that they need to get off to a strong restart. Nate Echeverria, the economic development director, will be working closely with business owners to assist them as they navigate through the challenging times by utilizing resources—one illustration being the small business loans that are being made available through federal sources. Wright said that Echeverria has already been in contact with many different business owners in the area to see how Historic Kennett Square can provide assistance.
Wright came to Historic Kennett Square from Strong Towns, a national media and advocacy organization that focuses on how to build strong and resilient communities. After just a few months of working with businesses and community leaders in town, Wright is impressed with the dedication that people have to the town. He explained that it has been heartening to see local residents come together to offer small acts of kindness to each other during the pandemic.
For a complete and continuously updated list of ways you can support specific local businesses, go to https://historickennettsquare.com/supporting-our-local-business-community.
For ways you can support local nonprofits in this time of great need go to https://historickennettsquare.com/community-updates-resources-kcsd-lch-kacs-and-more.
And if you own a business or know someone who does, a variety of resources are available at https://historickennettsquare.com/resources-for-the-local-business-community.