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September 29, 2020

Stay loyal: Organizations launch outreach campaign to support businesses

Lapels Dry Cleaning was one of the select businesses deemed “essential” during the early days of the shelter-in-place order, and with such a designation was not required to close its doors.

As owner Anita Bedoya points out, the business provides needed uniform services for police officers and other front-line workers.

But still, life under Covid-19 been tough for the 775 First St. business, like so many others.

“As an essential service, we’ve been open,” Bedoya said. “But it’s been super slow. It’s almost painful. I want to be here to serve our community.”

Bedoya said she was forced to lay off four of her staff, and reduce two others to 16 hours a week each.

“That was the hardest part,” she said. “Everybody is struggling now. But I’m trying to stay positive and optimistic. We just keep going.”

With the economy slowly reopening, Bedoya and every other business owner in Gilroy are hoping their customers will come back. Thanks to efforts by Visit Gilroy and the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce, it’s easier for customers to know what is open during this uncertain time.

The organizations, working with the City of Gilroy, launched a community outreach campaign on June 8 to help support restaurants, shops, wineries and other businesses in the city. The Gilroy City Council in April approved $75,000 in funding for the 60-day campaign.

The campaign’s slogan, “Stay Loyal. Stay Local. Support Gilroy,” is the driving force behind the effort.

Chamber President/CEO Mark Turner said the stay-at-home period allowed people to develop habits of shopping online. But shopping at online retailers such as Amazon has no benefit to the local economy, as those dollars do not circulate back into the community, he added.

The goal of the outreach campaign is to get shoppers to re-learn habits of shopping locally.

“When they buy from our local bookstore, our local restaurants, our local dry cleaner, they’re hiring locals, they’re spending locally,” Turner said. “That money gets recycled back into our community.”

JOINING FORCES Lapels Dry Cleaning owner Anita Bedoya (center) is joined by Visit Gilroy Executive Director Jane Howard and Gilroy Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Mark Turner, who are heading up a campaign to support local businesses. Photo: Erik Chalhoub

Jane Howard, executive director of Visit Gilroy, said the campaign focuses on marketing Gilroy to its residents through digital and print sources, as well as radio, with a push toward the Hispanic market.

By visiting, viewers can get a list of the various restaurants, wineries and other shops in Gilroy, where hours, menus and other information are available.

“We’re covering all components of how to support Gilroy to Gilroy,” Howard said. “The initial numbers that we’re tracking are amazing.”

She added that the hope of the campaign is to showcase the many types of businesses and services available in Gilroy that residents may not have been aware of, creating a new customer base for the long-term.

Bedoya said she has used the pandemic to offer a pick-up and delivery service for Lapels Dry Cleaning, something she has wanted to do since she opened for business three years ago.

“At the end of last year, I said ‘I’m ready for delivery,’ but I always had those ‘buts,’ she said. “This has been a good push.”

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