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Los Altos city staff, merchant groups replicate online campaign for local businesses

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Courtesy of the Los Altos Chamber of Commerce

The city of Los Altos, the Los Altos Village Association and the Los Altos Chamber of Commerce launched a joint effort Wednesday (April 8) designed to drive profits for local business during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dubbed What’s Open Los Altos – modeled on a similar campaign, What’s Open Santa Cruz – the initiative features a website and Instagram account listing restaurants and retail establishments operating during the shelter-in-place order, sorted by type.

“I was networking with my advisers and one asked if I had seen the Santa Cruz site,” LAVA executive director Scott Hunter told the Town Crier in an email. “I had not, but I loved the idea and the name. The next day I purchased the domain name whatsopenlosaltos.org (and others related to it) and then pitched the idea to the group during a call – with a goal of having us all work more closely together on the common goal of supporting all businesses in Los Altos.”

Hunter said it’s been a group effort to get the website and Instagram account up and running. LAVA’s web designer took the lead in creating the look and feel of whatsopenlosaltos.org, which will be continually modified as more businesses get on board. Representatives of LAVA, the city of Los Altos and the Chamber contacted via phone and email all restaurants and retailers with business licenses in Los Altos, and are in the process of reaching out to service providers.

Los Altos Chamber of Commerce president Kim Mosley said the mission of What’s Open Los Altos is to provide local residents with a one-stop-shopping experience to order, purchase and donate to business owners and employees during the public health crisis.

What’s Open Los Altos’ website enables visitors to purchase gift cards from their preferred businesses; donate; check which remain open, deliver and hours of operation; determine which have GoFundMe pages; and find additional resources about COVID-19. The initiative’s Instagram page is a regularly updated stream of reblogged information from Los Altos businesses.

“This is a call to action for our community,” Mosley said. “We ask that each community member give and purchase according to the capacity of their heart and their wallet.”

To date, nearly 50 restaurants and two dozen merchants and service providers are listed. Twenty-two businesses offer the option to purchase gift cards, and nine have active GoFundMe pages. When asked if the coalition had considered a mass GoFundMe for all operators affected by the shelter-in-place order, Mosley said it was considered but the logistics and liability of how the funds would be split seemed problematic.

“Several businesses had already started GoFundMe sites so creating one landing page where Los Altans could go seemed like the right idea,” Mosley said.

For more information on the campaign, visit whatsopenlosaltos.org or instagram.com/whatsopenlosaltos.

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