Maryland Tourism / Maryland Small Business
How Maryland businesses are rethinking ways to serve customers during COVID-19
By Julie Miller /
March 22, 2020
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Despite the challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies are finding innovative ways to provide products and services to their customers. Here are some examples.

Carryout & Curbside Pickup

Although restaurants are closed for dining, they are still able to provide curbside pickup, carryout, and delivery. Industries besides restaurants are finding ways to provide curbside pickup as well. Greedy Reads in downtown Baltimore is helping connect quarantined Marylanders to books through curbside pickup, as well as delivery. Manor Hill Brewing is also offering curbside service at its farm in Ellicott City, and has an “order ahead option” through its website. The Department of Commerce’s Tourism Department has compiled a list of restaurants offering carryout currently

Delivery

Restaurants across the state that don’t typically deliver are stepping up to deliver meals directly to customers, either through their own service or third-party vendors like GrubHub and UberEats. Even professional services providers, like Alpha Graphics, is offering free delivery to its customers.

Special Hours

Grocery stores across the state have set up special hours for senior citizens to shop. Safeway has set aside 7-9 a.m. on Tuesday and Thursdays. Giant foods has designated 6-7 a.m. as their senior-only shopping hour. With these measures, Marylanders ages 60 and over can safely get the groceries they need with minimum exposure to other people. 

Online Selling

While some retailers may have online stores, it’s not easy to launch an online store in a few days. Retailers, such as Sweet Elizabeth Jane, Double Dutch Boutique, and the Keepers Vintage are getting creative by leveraging social media and direct messaging to continue to promote and sell their products. 

Virtual Connections

Can your services be provided virtually? Fitness trainers and group fitness providers, such as Fit4Mom Howard County, are turning to video streaming to engage with their clients. The Cokas Group of NextStep Realty is one real estate business that is promoting virtual presentations, virtual open houses, virtual home tours, and video walkthroughs. And the Maryland State Arts Council has compiled a list of arts and entertainment venues across the state that are using technology to entertain and educate. 

The Baltimore EcoMap has compiled a portal Baltimore-area businesses offering takeout, delivery and gift cards. Restaurants and other small businesses can submit their information to be included in the database. 

We know this unprecedented event has dramatic impacts on business, and that the above measures don’t fill a void for traditional business. The Maryland Department of Commerce is doing everything in its power to ensure small business owners are connected to the resources they need now and in the days, weeks, and months ahead. More business resources related to the COVID-19 crisis can be found here on the Maryland Business Express.
 

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