Winston Churchill, look out!
With the power of positive messaging — and a standardized safety plan — East Village merchants are raring to declare “Victory!” against the COVID foe when the economy reopens.
Local shop owners are collaborating on a shared operational system to protect the public. Their inspirational symbol is the “V” sign for “East Village Victory!”
The initiative — dubbed the Village Victory Campaign — includes a neighborhood-wide gift card page and also a new app.
The campaign’s hashtag on Instagram and Twitter is #VivaEastVillage.
The East Village Independent Merchants Association a.k.a. EVIMA jumped at the chance to organize when Tony Powe, founder of WeLocals, a nonprofit that works to keep neighborhoods vibrant, presented ideas for the East Village recovery plan.
The plan outlines safe and effective ways to speed up a stronger restart of the local economy and ways to help local businesses and residents reconnect and reengage.
More than 100 business owners participated in developing the plan, together with input from local community organizations, including the East Village Community Coalition, Cooper Square Committee and FABnyc.
Merchants have taken the pledge to adhere to the plan’s safety specifications and to create a unified and safe shopping district. It’s being called an “accelerated plan,” with the idea that, when the retail phase of the reopening launches, East Village merchants will be ready, safe and raring to go.
First, the idea is for shared safety standards to be established for all shops and to display clear signage, such as window and floor decals that help shoppers feel safe. Stickers and “vintage Village graffiti” (though probably not Peter Missing’s “The Party’s Over”) will also be part of the messaging.
The initiative will also remind shoppers that “local shopping means a strong local economy.” According to the organizers, 48 percent of purchases at local independent businesses get recirculated back into the local economy, and, in many cases, a local shop is also buying locally made goods, which reinforces more local jobs.
The campaign is meant to “reestablish the strong bond between merchants and residents” and the sense of “being in this together.”
EVIMA stresses that the merchant pledge goes beyond safety standards, and includes best business practices, such as instilling kindness and patience. Customers will be encouraged to “tacitly take this pledge, too.”
“When we open our doors, shoppers should know that we are ready to welcome them — with impeccable safety standards and a bigger smile than before,” said Charles Branstool, co-chairperson of EVIMA and owner of Exit9 Gift Emporium, 51 Avenue A.
Merchants and volunteers will plaster the East Village with “Victory” signs and the slogan “Stronger, Safer, Together.”
The merchants have also recreated a new neighborhood app. The app will include neighborhood-wide listings and a loyalty program and is free to both businesses and users. The app lists local businesses, shows’ opening times, links to individual Web sites, and allows businesses to promote daily specials.
“With more than 40 merchants, and growing, on the new neighborhood app, we are launching strong with shopping information and resources that are relevant to locals and all New Yorkers looking for safe in-person shopping experiences,” said Tony Powe, C.E.O. of WeLocals.
In addition to the neighborhood app, EVIMA will keep the public informed on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. EVIMA will use IGTV to blast updates on merchants, services and a few online shopping events.
A fundraiser is up and running that will help fund the recovery plan.
“The biggest contribution anyone can make is to go out and support local businesses,” EVIMA’s Branstool said. “If you are also in a position to donate a few dollars, as little as $10 will go a long way to help us implement the recovery plans. Anyone donating $10 or more will receive $10 in rewards on the WeLocals app, plus access to $100 worth of rewards at neighborhood stores.”
In addition, the East Village Community-Wide Gift card listing page is a one-stop place to find gift cards to favorite local stores.