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Barrington Business Blast offers hometown businesses help

Resident creates page designed to drive more business to local shops

By Josh Bickford
Posted 7/13/20

A proposal for a community-led drive to help businesses and workers that might be struggling during the current economic downturn has blossomed into the "Barrington Business Blast."

Barrington …

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Please support local news coverage –

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Barrington Business Blast offers hometown businesses help

Resident creates page designed to drive more business to local shops

Posted

A proposal for a community-led drive to help businesses and workers that might be struggling during the current economic downturn has blossomed into the "Barrington Business Blast."

Barrington resident Matthew Heffner built the "Blast," which operates through a Facebook page.

In a recent email, Mr. Heffner explained how it works: "Each week, people are encouraged to patronize businesses in a preselected neighborhood. A post goes out on the Facebook page every Sunday evening with the area and businesses to make purchases from," he wrote.

A few weeks back, Mr. Heffner selected the Maple Avenue business district, followed a week later by shops on Waseca Avenue, Anoka, Wood and Markwood Drive.

Mr. Heffner's goal is simple — he wants to help local businesses stay afloat during this difficult economic time. He said he also wants to inform people on how best to safely visit the local businesses.

The roots of the Barrington Business Blast can be traced back to a letter Mr. Heffner wrote to the Barrington  Times more than a month ago: "Envision scenic, downtown Barrington on a sunny day in late spring. During ordinary times, you might picture friends and neighbors greeting their counterparts who operate your favorite shops and restaurants.

"These extraordinary times jeopardize these everyday, priceless interactions. You likely know if the businesses you envision are new, small, or closed early on during this pandemic. We don't know which ones operate on razor-thin margins. We also don't know if existing relief efforts will be enough for your favorite businesses to provide you with those simple but special interactions again.

"That's why we must start an initiative to help keep as many of these businesses afloat."

Mr. Heffner said the Barrington Business Blast has been pretty well received, adding that he recognizes that the situation has likely impacted shoppers' habits. He offered himself as an example — he said he used stop at the local bagel shop most mornings on the way to work and pick up a coffee and a bagel. But following the stay-at-home, he found himself brewing his coffee at home more and purchasing a big bag of bagels once or twice a week.

Mr. Heffner said he decided to challenge himself to visit more local businesses more regularly.

"I needed to put my money where my mouth was," he said.

The hope is that with assistance from the Barrington Business Blast more people will do the same.

Initial proposal

In his initial proposal, Mr. Heffner suggested the town council create a business relief fund to help local shops weather the economic challenges. Residents could donate to the fund and at the end of each week, the town could distribute the money proportionally to the percent of each business's projected losses. Mr. Heffner said larger federal and state assistance programs filled that void quickly.

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