Vt. Businesses Struggling With COVID-19 Losses Get New Promotional Boost

The site just launched, to direct consumers to small businesses that could use support

NBC Universal, Inc.

Monday, positive tests for COVID-19 in Vermont climbed to 256, up 21 from Sunday, while deaths remained flat at 12, according to the Vermont Department of Health.

Positive test results are expected to continue climbing, as the state recently made more options for testing available by a doctor's referral, said Dr. Mark Levine, Vermont’s health commissioner.

Meanwhile, as losses to many small businesses grow day-by-day during the COVID-19 crisis, a new push is underway in Vermont to encourage support for mom-and-pop operations.

"There are more small businesses in Vermont than there are large businesses," observed Nicole Junas Ravlin, one of the cofounders of the new site

Junas Ravlin owns a public relations firm. She teamed with a former media exec and the head of a digital marketing and web design company to launch the site on an all-volunteer, pro-bono basis.

The site gives businesses that were forced to make jarring shifts in their operations because of COVID-19 a place to tell customers precisely what would help them most right now.

For some, it may be take-out orders. For others, retail purchases, gift cards or donations may be more helpful.

The cofounders' goal is to encourage Vermonters and others who love Vermont to spend money with local businesses if they're able to, to stem even more job losses or permanent closures, Junas Ravlin told NECN and NBC10 Boston.

"If they just go away, that takes away what makes Vermont special," the PR executive said. "It's our small businesses, the people who own them, and the folks who work in them, as well."

By this week, the site hopes to have 1,000 or more business listings, Junas Ravlin said.

One of the businesses included in the site is Leonardo's, a popular pizza place with locations in Burlington and South Burlington.

Leonardo's and other Vermont restaurants may only offer delivery and curbside pickup under an order from Gov. Phil Scott. The policy is aimed at drastically reducing contact between people, to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Kelly Byers of Leonardo's said the atmosphere during the fight against the new coronavirus has taken a large bite out of sales.

"We don't have college kids," Byers pointed out, referring to a key customer base. "There's no big orders for functions."

Antonia Hinge, who lives just outside Burlington, used to find a pick-up food option for her family.

"It was such a treat to be able to eat someone else's cooking for a night," the mom of two said. "If there's anything I can do in the meantime to help people stay afloat, I'm happy to do it."

Scott, a Republican, has also suggested that takeout customers who can tip restaurant staff or delivery drivers generously should do so, saying thinking of others is how we'll get through this together.

Monday, Scott placed tough new limits on travel in an additional attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19 in his state.

The governor ordered hotels, inns, campgrounds and short-term rentals to pause their operations until at least April 15. He also suspended online bookings.

The new announcement, which is aimed at discouraging nonessential travel by people who want to get out of COVID-19 hot zones like New York City, is in addition to Scott's "stay home, stay safe" executive order and closures of schools and businesses.

Additionally, any resident or non-resident entering Vermont from time spent out of state must self-quarantine for 14 days, to further contribute to slowing the spread of disease in Vermont.

"We've got to remember, as Americans, we are all in this together," Scott said Monday. "We all have a role to play in keeping each other safe. So I'm asking everyone to join us in this effort, be united, and stay Vermont strong."

Scott's new orders on travel has exceptions, such as for cross-border travel by workers on the front lines of fighting COVID-19, or for lodging establishments essential workers.

Contact Us