Small businesses in Corning’s Gaffer District adjusting to the new normal


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CORNING, N.Y. (WETM) – “The typical way of doing business is completely scrapped.”

Coleen Fabrizi, Executive Director for Corning’s Gaffer District, has been working with local businesses to help promote their products and services in new ways during the “new normal” caused by COVID-19.

“They’re not changing the conversation, they’re just changing the way they’re having that conversation.”

With digital advertising and email campaigns, Fabrizi says consumers “are responding” and that the local businesses “are feeling hopeful and encouraged, and so appreciate the tremendous support from their customers.”

A creative way the Gaffer District decided to promote both local products and social distancing was through a graphic on social media.

Courtesy Corning Gaffer District

“We were thinking about ‘hmm, so maybe one way to do it is to use some of the products and services that we offer as the gap filler for the six feet of social distancing.'”

The Gaffer District has also found success through their “Buy Now Shop Later” program, which raised over $300,000 thanks to matching donations from Corning Inc. and Corning Credit Union.

“The ‘Buy Now Shop Later’ program has been a tremendous source of hope and encouragement as we try to look at the future, and although it’s made a tremendous difference, you know, people are still concerned.”

As for popular events such as GlassFest, Fabrizi says no final decisions have been made yet, but she recognizes that events across the country that draw large crowds have been canceled.

In March the Gaffer District announced that the 11th annual GlassFest will be moved from Memorial Day weekend in May to July 30-August 2, 2020.

“We may not be able to do events like what we’re typically used to doing, but I know for a fact our downtown businesses will rally and we will figure out a way to engage in an appropriate way that adheres to all of our social distancing and or other concerns at the next level as we look towards reopening.”

“We are not going to back down, we are not going to let COVID-19 tell our story. We will let the spirit and the passion of our community and our small businesses tell that story”

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