Amherst BID launches ‘Take the Pledge’ effort to help businesses

  • Robert Mora, right, who is the building commissioner for Amherst, directs the placement of tables as Gabrielle Gould, the executive director of Amherst BID, holds a measuring tape as they prepare for outdoor dining, Friday, June 26, on North Pleasant Street. Tenzin Soepa, of MoMo Tibetan Restaurant, looks on. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

  • A view of Main Street in downtown Amherst on Saturday afternoon, March 14, 2020. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 20, 2020

AMHERST — After months of the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants, shops and salons continue to reel from the effects of lockdowns, forced closures and general concerns from the public about spending time inside establishments.

While summer allowed some of these businesses to operate outdoors, the Amherst Business Improvement District is preparing them for the challenges of winter, and possibly a new spike in infections, by launching an initiative aimed at keeping the business community viable.

Calling it “Take the Pledge,” the effort is to save downtown shops by having residents invest in them regularly, while in exchange getting opportunities to win prizes, including $100 to $500 gift cards from the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce, in random drawings.

BID Executive Director Gabrielle Gould wrote in an email that “Take the Pledge” follows from the successful effort in which the BID and Chamber created the Downtown Amherst Foundation’s Relief and Resiliency grant program, which raised over $350,000 and provided grants to businesses to help them stay intact.

“In short, we are aware it is going to be a long winter,” Gould said. “We are aware that distance learning and work from home is not easy. We are aware that many vacation plans and ideals are being set aside.”

The initiative encourages people to do take out, online ordering and curbside pickups, or order gift cards, at some of the 39 restaurants and cafes, to shop at a number of the 19 stores and to have by-appointment visits to a handful of the 19 salons, barbershops and spas.

“The businesses that we collectively support tonight will be the ones with doors open come April,” Gould said.

The idea is that through the end of the year, people can save receipts from 10 restaurants, five retailers and three service businesses, and then submit these with a “Take the Pledge” list, which will be printed monthly in the Daily Hampshire Gazette, and return to the BID offices at 35 South Pleasant St.

The checklist will also be available at amherstdowntown.com, as well as at downtown businesses and in take-out bags from restaurants and eateries.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.