By Amy Ogle
HDDA Executive Director

Hickory – Hickory’s downtown has always held a magical quality for me. It is where my sister and I found secret hiding nooks while our mother roamed the department stores of past. It is where my father and I strolled on early Saturday mornings, just to get a chance to sit at the counter at Woolworths. A place where business owners represented a way of life that stood for community, strength and pride.

The heartbeat of our downtown has been put to the test over the past few weeks as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic. This strange new world has required everyone to step out of their comfort zones and adapt. Luckily, the small business owners in our downtown are a crafty and innovative bunch! If you have ever attempted to open a small business, you know it is not for the faint of heart. The hours are long and the stress is high, but these humble people keep showing up day after day.

I was not surprised when our downtown businesses took this new challenge head on. Creating inventive and visionary ways to still provide our community with the things they love. Our downtown restaurants, coffee shop and deli were hit first with the Governor’s Executive order to close all dine in areas. Over night they shifted their marketing to supply dedicated customers with curbside service, take out and delivery. Social media pages exploded with promotions tailored to accommodate social distancing, offering take and bake family meals, wine and beer specials and revamped menus.

Numerous other downtown shops could have just shut their doors, but their commitment to their community was more powerful than their individual needs. An online dojo appeared to keep students connected and training. A YouTube channel dedicated to the health and well being of our children has been created. Both of these owners are working tirelessly to keep our youth active and engaged. DIY take away kits are available for all ages to combat the long days of distancing. Boutiques have ramped up their online stores offering their clientele a more personalized shopping experience, fun promotional sales and discounted shipping.

What I am the most humbled by is the support our downtown businesses have for one another. Each one looking to their unique qualities to tackle this hard time with ingenuous ideas and collaboration. One business owner created a Facebook page called Keep It Local, which is dedicated to help small business not only promote themselves, but stay connected and unified. Retailers are using cross promotion to raise each other up by featuring products and advertisement for each other on their businesses and individual social media pages. Products that protect the health of our entire community are being created daily due to business collaboration. Everywhere I look there is solidarity and the knowledge that when this passes, our downtown will still be the core of our community. It will still be a place where memories are waiting to be made.