How to Support Local Businesses and Creatives in the Time of the Coronavirus

Well-intentioned and well-studied efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus — such as social distancing — have led to a decrease in foot traffic, and local businesses suffer for it most severely. In addition, hunkering down at home may compel folks to do most of their purchasing through the incredibly convenient Amazon services. The avoidance of public spaces and the dominance of Amazon is a pretty formidable one-two punch, and we don’t want local businesses to come out of this pandemic defeated. Below, 303 Magazine crafted a guide of how you can support them during this time.

But first, we have a few notes: The online purchase of any of the following products necessarily involves the labor of packaging, shipping and delivery workers. We are grateful for the courage and hard work they put in to make social distancing possible for many others. In addition, if you plan on going to a retail store, make sure to wash your hands before and after your trip, and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth throughout the experience.

 Shop at Local Markets that Carry Locally-Made Goods in Bulk

Stockpiling some culinary staples? Swoop by the following neighborhood markets either in addition to or in lieu of your trip to Walmart.

NOTE: With the developing situation, make sure to check if a local business is still open and do not go out if you are not feeling well.

Littleton Market. Photo by Evans Ousley

Marczyk Fine Foods Uptown location: 770 E. 17th Ave., Denver. Colfax Location: 5100 E. Colfax Ave., Denver.

Il Porcellino 4324 W. 41st Ave., Denver.

The Market at Larimer Square 1445 Larimer St., Denver

Rosenberg’s Bagels & Delicatessen Welton location: 725 E. 26th Ave., Denver. Stanley Marketplace location: 2501 Dallas St., Aurora.

Mondo Market Stanley Marketplace location: 2501 Dallas Street, Aurora. Broadway market 950 Broadway, Denver.

Blackbelly Butchery & Market 1606 Conestoga St., Boulder.

Cured 1825 Pearl St. Ste. B, Boulder

Alfalfa’s Market 1651 Broadway, Boulder.

Lolita’s Market & Deli 800 Pearl St., Boulder

Littleton Market 2692 W Alamo Ave., Littleton

Farm Girl Foods The Emporium Building, 200 Perry St., Castle Rock.

Natural Grocers (See various locations here.)

ZERO Market (for bulk soap, shampoo and sustainable products including locally made hand sanitizer) at Stanley Marketplace and Edgewater Market.

READ: Littleton Market is Bringing Local Products to a Classified Food Desert

Buy Nonperishable Products Made by Local Businesses

When you’re at one of the above markets, look out for these products, or buy directly from the source online.

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Photo courtesy of Björn’s Colorado Honey

Health and Wellness

Spinster Sisters Co. for sustainably-made soaps and skincare online, at their Golden Retail Store (1116 Washington Ave., Golden) or from a stockist near you.

 Fig + Yarrow for handmade, small-batch skincare products that smell amazing you can buy online

Willow Bloom Skincare for serums and gift packages

Blue Willow or Dram Apothocary for CBD products

Sauces and Condiments

Jojo’s Siracha Order online through their website.

Merf’s condiments Order online or buy at a local market like Mondo

Elevation Organic Ketchup Buy online or at a retail location near you.

Chiporro Sauce Co. Sold at Cured, Mondo Market, Natural Grocers and at retail locations near you.

Food & Drink

Bjorn’s Honey also sells bee-based health and skincare products in addition to honey. Buy their goods online here.

PB Love Co. Buy their award-winning nut butters online or from the retailers the company listed here.

For coffee, check out the products made by any of the 33 Denver coffee roasters that 303 Magazine profiled here.

Local Beer and Booze, Denver has no shortage of great local breweries, distilleries, wineries and more. So head to your favorite liquor store or brewery (wash your hands first) and pick some up. How else are you going to get through quarantine? Here are some great guides and articles to help you choose:

Denver Distilleries
Local hard seltzers and CBD waters
Canned wine bottles to go from Bigsby’s Folly
Craft Alley has all your favorite local beer crowlers in one place

Also, see great local liquor stores like Mr. B’s, The Proper Pour, Proof Spirits, Argonaut, Joy Wine & Spirits, Molly’s Spirits, Mondo Vino, Baker Wine & Spirits, Divino Wine and Spirits. Wash your hands and don’t go if you’re sick! Some of these places also offer delivery like Argonaut or use an online booze delivery app like Drizly.

Buy Gift Cards from Local Businesses You Love

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Photo by Lucy Beaugard and courtesy of EatDenver’s Facebook

Purchasing a gift card from a local business is a good move right now because the money immediately goes toward the company, right when things are slow. You can swap it for your product or service later on, when spending time in close proximity with other people becomes less risky. Consider investing a Larimer Square gift certificate, which can be redeemed at all stores and restaurants on Larimer Square. Denver’s Union Station also offers a gift card that can be used at The Cooper Lounge, Terminal Bar, Pigtrain Coffee, Milkbox Ice Creamery, ACME Delicatessen and ACME Pizzeria, but you can only purchase the gift card on-site. The EatDenver Dining Deck, featured in 303 Magazine‘s 2019 Gift Guide, is also a great choice. Don’t forget about the boutique restaurants and shops on your block that only you know about, though. See about their gift card options.

Buy (Not Just Stream) Music from Local Bands

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The music industry is taking a hit. AEG and Live Nation — the two largest concert promoters in our area — have suspended major concert tours until April. Nor can we forget about the cancellation of South By Southwest, which four local musical acts — The Yawpers, Dressy Bessy, Kyle Emerson and The Still Tide — were scheduled to play. Several other local musicians are also somewhat out of work, as various other smaller upcoming festivals have been canceled, too.

Major streaming services pay musicians around a third to a sixth of a cent per stream, making it nearly impossible for people to make a living solely through streaming royalties. That’s one of the reasons concerts, tours and festivals have become so essential for musicians in the past decade — it’s the most lucrative way for them to share their music. And now tightly-packed live events such as these aren’t an option.

So what can we do? Well, first we don’t want to discourage you from listening to all the dope music that Denver musicians put on Spotify — that’s certainly worth your time. If you need a place to start, check out 303 Magazine‘s master playlists of Denver’s best music by genre. You can also explore our Local Listen series, which highlights new local albums that our staff finds to be so singular.

It’s also a great time to purchase our 303 Music Vol. 3 vinyl record, the tracklist is made up of hand-selected Colorado favorites. This community passion project released on March 3, and 25% of its proceeds go to the local non-profit, Youth on Record.

Finally, we encourage music-lovers to purchase digital and physical copies of your favorite band’s songs, EPs or albums, if they offer such a service. If they don’t, reach out to them and see if they accept Venmo. If the local musical act you fawn over sells merch on their website, buy a concert ticket’s worth of it (or maybe a cover charges worth, or a drink’s worth…). Point is, any form of support counts, though financial support pays the bills.

Commission work from your favorite local artists

Denver artists

Sofie Birkin, holding one of her own illustrations. Photo by Madison McMullen

Perhaps it’s a little corny to say so, but our spread of kindness must be more pervasive than the spread of the coronavirus. Consciously patronizing local businesses and creatives is one way we can support our community, and we don’t have to inadvertently put others at risk of the coronavirus to do so.

Fortunately, most artists are still hard at work inside their studios. As events and gallery showings cancel or are postponed, some of the work that artists made to display is now for sale through personal websites or Instagram accounts. Galleries are still manning their websites as well, which usually accounts for a majority of the sales of their stocked artwork anyway.

Other artists are adapting quickly, especially if their mediums involve performance or standing in front of large crowds. Amber Blais, one of the founders of performance troupe Rainbow Militia, started a spreadsheet for local artists to submit other skills they have beyond the performance world — like public relations, accounting, coding, bodywork, graphic design, IT and many more.

With some extra free time and uncertainty about existing projects, grants and funding, artists are also eager to work on private artistic commissions. To receive a one-of-a-kind piece of artwork of your own, it can be as easy as DM-ing your favorite local artist with a project idea and a budget. Many artists accept Venmo payments, making the exchange easy (and free of person-to-person contact) as long as they can mail the finished product to you.

Not only will you help out the local creative community by commissioning work from them at a time like this, but you might also have a sweet new piece of artwork to help keep you sane while you’re stuck at home.

Here are a few articles to introduce you to some local artists 

Denver Artists to Watch in 2020
A Self Taught Colorado Springs’ Artist Creates Mesmerizing Hyper-Realistic Portraits
Three Women Are On a Mission to Paint Every Grain Elevator on Colorado’s Eastern Plains
Meet The Denver Maker Who Creates Miniature Worlds Inside Retro Objects
Why Spoken Word is the Art Form of Denver’s Activists
How Colorado’s New Poet Laureate Breaks the Mold and Will Change the Post Forever
A Colorado Photographer Uses Century-Old Techniques to Capture Skateboarders, Park Rangers and Public Lands

Listen to Local Podcasts

Wait, is This Thing On? cast. Photo by Danielle Webster.

While away the hours by listening to the wealth of content put out by local podcasters. The Denver Podcast Network houses community favorites like Left Hand Right Brain, Changing Denver, and the Denver Pizza Podcast. Mutiny Information Cafe, which opened its own podcast studio in March, publishes a wide variety of witty and informative shows, including Queen City Companion, Motherf**ker in a Cape and Hello? Denver? Are You Still There? For outdoorsy fellows, check out the Colorado Backcountry Adventures podcast, and for music lovers, press play on ColoLocal. Denise Soler Cox’s podcast, The Self-ish Latina, is also piquing our ears, as is Denver’s female-led podcast, Wait, Is This Thing On? If you’re a history buff, check out What’s Her Name? podcast, which is co-founded by locally-based educator Olivia Meikle and tells the stories of fascinating women you’ve never heard of (but should have). The History Colorado museum network also runs three separate podcasts. The museums themselves are closed until at least April 4.

Support Local Bookstores Online and Check Out the Local Authors

Photo courtesy of Tattered Cover on Facebook.

While the appeal of e-books — their humanless delivery, their immediate arrival — seems all the more lustrous at this time, before you download any on Amazon, consider borrowing an e-book or audiobook from the Denver Public Library. This is a great way to support the library while it has closed several of their branches and canceled all library programs, classes, events, ideaLABs and outreach activities through April 12. The Boulder Book Store also sells e-books, and it’s currently offering free shipping to all online purchases of physical books. The Tattered Cover Book Stores are offering free shipping for orders over $30, and you can also purchase audiobooks on their website as well. For more information, check out The Tattered Cover’s announcement here.