Coupeville comes together to weather the COVID storm
— Created April 29, 2020 by Kathy Reed
By Kathy Reed
Coupeville is the latest Whidbey Island community to pull together to support Central Whidbey small businesses.
The Chamber of Commerce has announced it is launching a virtual shopping website to support businesses in Coupeville and Greenbank through COVID-19 and beyond.
“The website is designed to support local businesses either with or without their own websites,” said the Chamber’s Executive Director, Lynda Eccles. “Our aim is to help them generate sales through this platform in the short term. In the long term, I visualize this being a year round Virtual Coupeville, continuing to support our local merchants and a way for visitors to navigate our historic downtown, and Reserve, as well as online sales.”
According to Eccles, this new opportunity has just been announced to local retail businesses, restaurants and lodging establishments throughout Central Whidbey, and will launch May 15. Deadline for businesses to turn in all their information is May 11. There is no cost to participate and all money from any sales will go directly to businesses. Chamber membership is not required.
“For now, you don’t have to be a member of the Chamber to apply,” said Eccles. “If you are a retail business, restaurant or lodging, we are offering this free for the remainder of the year. Once [patrons] are on the page, they will select the business they are interested in viewing; if they decide to purchase, they can do it from the page. Payment goes directly to the business. We are also promoting gift certificates if the businesses are offering them.”
Eccles said it doesn’t matter whether a business has its own website or not – owners can choose from options that include business pages, e-commerce portals or gift certificate purchases.
The “Virtual Coupeville and Greenbank” page is very similar to the e-commerce platform “Altogether Langley,” which the Langley Chamber of Commerce launched earlier this month (see the April 15 issue of Whidbey Weekly).
Meanwhile, the Coupeville Historic Waterfront Association is offering a new micro-loan program for businesses that fall within the organization’s boundaries. These “Light at the End of the Tunnel” loans – called LENT for short – will be available at little or no interest. CHWA started the program with $20,000 in seed money, according to an announcement on its website.
“With 75 percent of historic waterfront businesses closed (making no income but still strapped with rent and other bills), $20,000 is not a lot of money to help mitigate COVID-19 damage for businesses,” reads the statement by CHWA Executive Director Vickie Chambers. “With that in mind, we are asking you to help generate more loans than we could alone.
“Along with our Facade Grant program, the LENT micro loan program can help insure our friends and neighbors who own businesses…can face fallout of COVID-19 and unforeseen crises in the future,” Chambers’ statement continued. ” We hope you’ll see the benefit of the LENT micro loan program and will join us in investing in Coupeville. Together we’ll be investing in Coupeville’s long run during the COVID crisis and beyond.”
Just how the town of Coupeville and the rest of Whidbey Island’s communities have handled the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic is at the heart of another endeavor created by the Coupeville Chamber of Commerce. Eccles said board member Matt Iverson came up with the idea for each Island County chamber to put together a time capsule to commemorate this moment in our history.
“They are all on board and excited to be doing this,” said Eccles. “The plan is for each chamber to have a time capsule in their community; we will be planning the individual ceremonies once we are through this pandemic.
“This is to let people know what we were doing during this time – our thoughts, memories, new hobbies. Sadly, this is a moment in history that our children, grandchildren and their children will be talking about for years to come. We want our future to know what it was like, our heroes, our stories.”
Miranda Hoppock, executive director of the Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce, said she was happy to be asked to participate in creating a time capsule.
“These are treasures for future generations to be able to look back on and see how far we, as a society, have come – the advances we’ve made or the setbacks we’ve faced,” she said. “It’s valuable to show our generations where they came from, how they started, and what shaped our community to be what it is today, what it was yesterday, and what it will be tomorrow.
“As a child in elementary school my class buried a time capsule to be dug up when we graduated, since we were the class of 2000,” Hoppock continued. “I still remember putting a floppy disk in the bin to be buried, thinking there was no way technology would get any more sophisticated than that since it was cutting edge at the time!”
Eccles said complete details on the time capsule project will be announced soon, along with size and item guidelines, drop off points and deadline. Current plans call for Coupeville’s capsule to be buried by the town hall.
“We plan for the burial once it is safe for people to gather and we will announce it through the Whidbey Weekly,” she said. “After speaking with the Mayor and getting the town’s support of this project, we will be planning to open the capsule in 32 years, which will be the celebration of Coupeville’s 200th anniversary.
“The last piece to go into [the capsule] before it is closed will be from Mayor Molly Hughes,” continued Eccles. “One of our plans is to have some of our community children involved with the burial ceremony and hopefully they will be there at the opening of the capsule.”
Those interested in participating should watch for details in Whidbey Weekly when they are available, and also by checking in with participating chambers.
“Share your experience during this time with future generations,” encouraged Eccles. “Let them know we are #Coupeville Strong!; that we are – and always will be – an amazing community; that when this capsule is opened in 32 years when this community is healed and strong once more, they can learn from this and acknowledge the heroes of this time.”
For information on Virtual Coupeville and Greenbank or the time capsule project, contact Eccles at firstname.lastname@example.org. For information on the LENT micro loan program, visit coupevillehistoricwaterfront.com.