Local Businesses Making a Difference During a Pandemic


From donating personal protective equipment supplies to creating mask relief clips, these local business and organization leaders went the extra mile to help those affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

Photograph courtesy of Lucca Workshop

Lucca Workshop

Lindsey Schweitzer, owner of OTR wood and paper decor shop Lucca Workshop, used her high-tech laser machinery to cut plastic mask relief clips that reduce stress on a person’s ears and neck while wearing a surgical mask. By the end of May, Schweitzer had already donated more than 2,500 to hospitals and stores across the country, with plans to donate up to 8,000.

Redtree Art Gallery & Coffee Shop

The Oakley-based art gallery-slash-coffee shop shifted its business platform to show appreciation for local essential workers. Through its Redtree Initiative, customers could buy a single coffee, a pot of coffee, a single pastry or cookie, or a dozen pastries or cookies, which Redtree then delivered to local first responders and frontline healthcare workers. redtreegallery.net

The Native One

Anna Steffen, owner of the popular women’s boutique, turned to trusted Los Angeles–based clothing manufacturer HYFVE when COVID-19 forced her to close her OTR and Covington locations. Instead of placing a clothing order, she enlisted the vendor to source nonsurgical face masks, which Steffen then asked customers to “purchase” in small batches to be donated to local hospitals. In total, The Native One and its customers donated 5,200 masks.

OTR Chamber of Commerce

In addition to paying web developers to build online ordering capabilities and gift card applications for Over-the-Rhine businesses that didn’t already have them, the OTR Chamber of Commerce launched its Small Business Fund. With help from Main Street Ventures, Urban Sites, and Sycamore Capital, the chamber set a fund-raising goal of $500,000 to provide grants to help cover reopening costs for eligible small businesses in OTR and Pendleton.

Cincy Shirts

Cincy Shirts launched a “Stay at Home” T-shirt collection featuring comical designs, with a portion of proceeds donated to local and regional efforts supporting those affected by the crisis. Our favorites include one depicting Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear as Mister Rogers with the slogan Mister Beshear’s Commonwealth, and another of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton, M.D., M.P.H., posing with light sabers and Ohio Strikes Back.

African American Chamber of Commerce and MORTAR

The Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky African American Chamber of Commerce and local entrepreneurship hub MORTAR teamed up to create the Minority Business Emergency Assistance Fund to help struggling black- and minority-owned business owners survive COVID-19, with financial support for payroll gaps, rent or mortgage payments, and other bills.
african-americanchamber.com, wearemortar.com

Cincinnati Art Museum

Even though COVID-19 forced the Cincinnati Art Museum to close its doors, it didn’t stop the iconic institution from stepping up to help those affected by the crisis. It donated its entire supply of personal protective equipment to local healthcare workers, including 1,700 pairs of gloves and 160 face masks that would have been used during its art preservation process. The museum also donated food from its café to local nonprofit La Soupe to feed families with food insecurity.

College Hill Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation

With help from community donations to its “Alive and Thrive” fund-raising campaign, the College Hill CURC forgave April rent payments for all commercial tenants housed in properties the corporation fully owns. This included 14 small businesses located along Hamilton Avenue, such as College Hill Yoga, Enliven Nail Spa, Red Rose Jems Pizzeria, and College Hill Coffee Co.

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