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Businesses creatively adapt in response to the Coronavirus

Photo by Allie Smith


Businesses of all types are getting creative in the ways they connect with their customers, from online art parties to pet grooming tips. One business is even offering virtual birthday parties with princess video chats for little ones who aren’t able to enjoy a traditional party with their friends.

These inspirational initiatives transcend industry, audience, and location—and are unified in their focus on connecting and comforting their customers during uncertain times. Here are some of the most innovative and refreshing ways we’ve seen businesses adapt their offerings for the current environment.

We also published another version of this post to highlight restaurant-specific responses around the country.

Virtual networking and customer interaction

Art and photography

Artist and photographer Stevie Nelson is promoting an online “Social Distancing Art Party,” debuting a new art theme every day, and then her followers post their own creations. Day two was for drawing, painting, or photographing the inside of your fridge, while day five called for making one of your meals into art—Stevie chose cactus-shaped pancakes with a sun made of butter.

Images from Stevie Nelson

Photographer Cara Soulia and her friend Kristen Collins launched The Front Steps Project, an initiative where the duo took “Front Steps Portraits” of families all over Needham, Mass., a Boston suburb. In return, donations could be made to their fundraiser for Needham Community Council. This started as a local way to highlight the faces of the community while also raising money for it. The program has now caught on across the country with over 250 photographers in the U.S. and Canada doing their own #TheFrontStepsProjects in their communities, raising money for local food banks, hospitals, animal shelters, and more.

Painted Palettes, out of Washington, DC, specializes in calligraphy, watercolor, and engraving and is hosting virtual workshops. Some are free and others are paid—for the latter, she shops and ships the supplies to her customers beforehand.

Image from Painted Palettes

Brooke Ritter Photography of Santa Clarita, Calif. is hosting a live online beginner’s photography class, which will be later posted on their social media channels.

Card My Yard is a “yard greeting service” that assembles celebratory signs and messages in customers’ yards. They’re seeing a huge surge in business with set-ups for celebrations like baby births, high school graduations, and thank you’s to our frontline workers.

Photo from Kat L. on Yelp

Sante Fe Art Tours in New Mexico has adapted by promoting exclusive online art events—artist studio visits, art discussions, and exhibition tours—which are often times hosted by the artists themselves, making it an even more intimate and connected experience for the customer.

Entertainment

Kids entertainment company Painted Monkeys in southern California traditionally hosts on-site children’s parties, so to meet their customers halfway, they are offering virtual birthday parties for children to interact with characters like Little Mermaid or Snow Princess.

Image from Painted Monkeys

In San Jose, Calif., the Winchester Mystery House is taking a two-fold approach: virtual tours and discounted ticket vouchers. Explore the expansive mansion from home with a 40-minute behind-the-scenes tour. Future guests can also buy discounted ticket vouchers that can be used on any day into May 2021.

New York attraction Spyscape’s doors are temporarily closed, but online, its guests can explore free spy tests and games—like a quiz to find out what kind of spy you are, which was developed by a former Head of Training at British Intelligence—and soon, the new James Bond exhibition.

Comedians are streaming their acts online, from live group chats to behind-the-scenes home visits, like Jim Gaffigan’s “Dinner With The Gaffigans,” where you’re invited to a meal in his home, alongside his wife and five kids.

BreakoutIQ coordinates in-person, team-building events and is now bringing its expertise online, creating custom virtual team-building experiences online with puzzles, problem-solving games, and more. They created an easy set-up process with a program that can accommodate anywhere from 10 to 1,000 participants. 

Lip Smacking Foodie Tours in Las Vegas traditionally hosts in-person, guided culinary tours. To adapt and align with what will be the “new normal” when restaurants reopen, it introduced a new, 2.5-hour self-guided tour where patrons will explore three acclaimed restaurants via an online map with a virtual tour guide who will provide audio commentary at each stop. Guests will enjoy a special dish at each restaurant, plus 15% off other menu items.

Health, fitness, and beauty

Michael B Hair & Style in Highland Park, N.J. has created a virtual salon, conducting online tutorials with a gray screen, lights, and an iPhone camera, accompanied by a mannequin “client.”

Mile High Run Club offers treadmill-based interval and strength training classes in New York, and is now streaming free, donation-based virtual classes. Donations go directly to the coaches.

Nail care company and salon Olive & June is hosting a three-week online mani bootcamp, covering a variety of topics about your digits, like accent nails, ombrés, and stickers.

San Diego Meditation has implemented virtual meditation and yoga sessions for its clients.

Zooga Yoga in Culver City, Calif. traditionally offers children’s yoga classes in-person and has now brought them online, along with music and dance classes for kids (and their adults). Children’s safety comes first online too—you can access the classes through their private Facebook group, but you first have to sign up online or on the app to be approved.

Rae Studios, a boutique dance and fitness center in San Francisco, is live streaming group dance classes via Zoom (a video conferencing platform that can host up to 100 participants at once).

Pets (and more)

Mobile pet groomer Uptown Pup Mobile Grooming in the San Francisco Bay Area offers grooming tips and recommended tools for taking care of your pet between visits.

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden holds a daily “home safari” via Facebook Live at noon PT, featuring a new animal guest every day. Think meerkats, elephants, and Sir Francis, the red river hog.

Photo from the Cincinnati Zoo on Yelp

Sweet Farm in Half Moon Bay, Calif. is bringing its “Sweet Farm Animal Ambassadors” to your next meeting. You can invite your choice of animal to attend video conference calls or virtual happy hours—choose from llamas, goats, pigs, turkeys, and more. While they aren’t hosting any onsite tours at this time, you can take a virtual tour of the farm and meet the animals.

Photo from Sweet Farm on Yelp

#StayHomeAndFoster is a national effort to find homes for shelter animals across the country. StayHomeAndFoster.org offers more information on the initiative and connects potential pet parents to local shelters.

City Pups SF is sharing free web presentations on how to keep your dog busy and improve behavior while many have extra time at home.

Retail and product sales

Eliut Salon in New York is offering a pick-up service for pre-mixed color treatments. Clients can also make a virtual appointment with a stylist to learn application techniques.

Hair-care brand In Common encourages customers to use referral links from stylists to purchase its products. Nikki Lee, co-founder of Nine Zero One salon in West Hollywood and co-founder of In Common hair-care brand tells Allure: “Stylists will receive [a] commission from every purchase made through their own personalized links.”

Departed Soles Brewery in Jersey City, N.J. regularly sells its own branded retail items online, but it has also added digital gift cards for other businesses, like the local pet shop and neighborhood bistro.

Expanding outside of your core business

Integrated Pest Management, a local pest control company outside of Houston, is offering a new disinfectant service where they visit residential or commercial sites and disinfect all hard surfaces, especially high-traffic areas like door knobs and faucets. Customers can also go into the store to buy the disinfectant for home use.

Little Rock Tours in Arkansas uses a fogging machine to disinfect their buses, but with tours suspended, they’ve pivoted to the commercial cleaning business. Newly named Virus Busters, they use industrial-strength, hospital-grade chemical cleaners with the fogging machine to sanitize vehicles, buildings, and more.

Hair and makeup artist Ashley Watts regularly services her clients on TV and film sets and commercial sites, but she has pivoted to another one of her specialties—online marketing and branding. She is now offering digital consultation services, from copy updates on social media to tweaking website layouts for a cleaner look.

Autobell Car Wash, headquartered in North Carolina, has added a hospital-grade contact disinfectant spray to all interior car cleanings. CEO Carl Howard says, “We have purchased fogging devices that blanket the inside of customers’ cars with a disinfecting cleaner. We are fogging each vehicle as it goes into the carwash and we will fog it after the wash is complete.”

This information was accurate at the time of publication, but because things are constantly changing, we suggest checking with the business directly regarding any information listed here.


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