by Alexandria Binanti Robinson
Let’s talk for real here. 2020 has kicked our butts. The world has been dealt some crazy cards and we are now all too familiar with the terms “in these uncertain times” “social distance” and “canceled”. We were not only scared about our personal health, but we have worked through economic uncertainty, and have been impacted by events of social injustice that effect our people, our livelihoods, and our city.
This has been at times scary, and hard, and frustrating, but I can say we as a community are also strong, resilient, and adaptable. We don’t allow the word “Closed” to be an option easily. We are still growing, expanding, and pivoting in a way that will fit into the world again. Downtown Kenosha is the heartbeat of our city. Its small businesses are our core and we stand proudly with the motto #downtownkenoshastrong. Through these times of Covid-19, we have seen a true tenacity and creativity that makes me proud to call Kenosha my hometown.
We have seen a transformation of the shopping and dining experience. Our shop owners learned quickly how to dust off those computers and add online sales. But much more than just adding items to a website, they become personal shoppers for their customers – taking the steps to find out tastes, budget, sizes, etc. with follow up of pictures and phone calls hoping to suit the shopper’s imagination. They created pop up family meal menus to excite their audience, raffles with mystery bags, contests, and more. Who would have thought we would see a small furniture and home décor boutique become the leader in Facebook Live sales and sofa shopping experiences? Who would have guessed that carryout food could come to our doors with such culinary genius? Or that we would need books and puzzles, toys, and mystery bag deliveries much more frequently to enjoy at home? Who could have imagined that live stream bingo nights and concerts from our local creatives could bring such joy? THEY all did downtown, and these small businesses found every ingenious way to still be a part of making our lives personally touched with a happier experience.
And now they continue to adapt to the new world of Covid responsibility. Opening their doors has come with new rules, suggestions, and changes that still impact their operations. Yet, they proudly work with the Kenosha County Kickstart Plan, hear from WHO guidelines, and ask all the right the questions to our organization, to our community leaders, and to the health department in how to take all the right steps to make sure they are open safely for you. They are working harder than ever to get us all to a better tomorrow.
Today we may see our events cancelled and our gatherings a bit smaller, our streets a little bit quieter, and our shops open a little bit differently, but we are still here ready for you to shop small safely. And you will also see that we never stopped growing. You will see our historic buildings transformed into new breweries, stunning venues, boutique hotels, new restaurants, and even a new university all welcomed to our neighborhood. You will see our existing businesses with newer concepts, re-imagined spaces, and collaborations that will leave you excited to see our tomorrow. Because tomorrow is going to be an even better experience downtown.
(This story originally appears the print version of the Summer/Fall 2020 issue of Downtown Kenosha Magazine)