Artists Chalk Downtown Manchester Sidewalks to Support Local Businesses

The Manchester community is banding together to support local businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic.  Several initiates are underway encouraging residents to shop in downtown Manchester.

Restaurants and other business including floral shops, hardware, and package store have stayed open in a now almost empty downtown.

“We want them to be able to make a living. We want them to be able to sustain,” Lynn Sottile, owner of Schultz Design (983 Main St #6).

Sottile is the organizer of the Chalk Bomb Project, which helped kick off the initiatives to support small businesses.

The ongoing project has artists draw colorful pictures with encouraging messages in front of business to invite the pubic to support small businesses while still social distancing.  The idea started with restaurants but has since expanded.

“Wherever we see lights on we’re going to do something fun in front of their doors,” Sottile said. “We’re going to try to get to everybody.”

The project was made possible by The Dept. of Leisure, Families and Recreation with assistance in artist outreach and coordination by WORK_SPACE (903 Main St).

“We’re not encouraging people to be near each other, but just want to draw attention to businesses,” said Chris O’Brien, gallery curator of WORK_SPACE.

All artists are welcomed to participate. Photos of the drawings will be posted on social media to help spread the word that local businesses are still up and running.

Many restaurant owners have downsized during the pandemic.  Owners of The Angry Egg (1095 Main St.), Steve and Liz Hall, are now the only two in the kitchen.  Their restaurant was the first to be chalk bombed.

“I’m very humbled and so appreciative that the artists took the time to do that. It shows there’s so much goodness out there,” Liz said.

Sottile said she is still “toughing it out” with her business. Mulberry Street (981 Main St.) has been one of her favorite spots to grab a meal during the past few weeks, she added.  

Sottile also teamed up with MACC Charites (466 Main St.) for the Green Heart Campaign. The idea stemmed from a story of residents Fitchburg, MA placing red hearts in their windows to show support for first responders during the COVID-19 outbreak.

A distressed green heart will l be placed in the windows of businesses on Main St., said Beth Stafford, CEO and Executive Director of MACC Charities.

“This is to remind people businesses are open, to support Main St. and come back to Main St. when all this is over,” Stafford said.  “Don’t let your downtown go out.’

MACC is currently serving a larger population due to layoffs. In a day 150 people are served, 37 households served, and about 80 seniors are sent meals.

Urban Lodge Brewing (47 Purnell Pl.) started their own campaign this month selling t shirts with the slogan, “Small Business Big Heart Manchester, CT.”  According to the Urban Lodge website, 100 percent of the profits from the sale of the limited edition t shirts will go to MACC Charities. The shirt is available for purchase at their website (Urban Lodge also beer to-go).

All are encouraged to practice social distancing when out and stay home as much as possible to ensure our community stays safe.

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