GREAT FALLS, Mont. - When the Coronavirus pandemic first arrived almost a year ago, many local businesses got hit hard, forcing them to adapt and change. However, some in the Electric City say they pulled through those tough times with online help from a local family.
As Montana Right Now continues the second month of its Good Samaritan campaign, we spoke with a daughter-dad duo to see how a Facebook page they created brought their community together.
For Beth Branam and Terry Hurley, small mom-and-pop shops bring a sense of family you can’t find in chain-stores. So they got to work when the state temporarily closed last March, giving local businesses a digital spotlight by creating ‘GF Take Down & Take Out.’
As its co-creator, Beth spends roughly 15 hours a week managing the page in her spare time. “It’s definitely a side project for sure, but a fun one,” she said with a chuckle.
She founded it with her dad Terry, highlighting where you could dine or shop, when it was hard to tell what was open. “They literally couldn’t have anyone in their businesses. They did go completely closed or curbside [deliveries],” said Beth.
They started small, with the goal of a hundred members or so, but much to their surprise, “It just started exploding. Before we knew it, we had 3,000 members,” said Terry.
Now, with an active community of almost 11,000 members, the page connects neighbors, visitors and store owners alike. Roadhouse Diner tells MRN the page raised their spirits as they faced the challenges and unknowns of switching from dine-in to take out.
“We didn’t know if [customers] would come, if they would do take out, and that page reminded us that not only are we a community, but we’re not the only local business. And that inspired us to keep pushing forward,” said Roadhouse Diner’s Front of House Manager Danica Gliko.
On Central, Pizazz is known for its pots, pans and kitchen utensils, but they’re also a food seller business. Executive Chef Rhonda Adkins, who handles the shop’s social media, says getting involved on the page opened people’s eyes to services and products beyond their usual retail store reputation.
“It’s obvious when it’s Tracy’s, Jakers, you know you can go to a restaurant and get food. You didn’t know you could come to Pizazz and get food,” said Adkins
For Beth, hearing about her and her dad’s effect on others feels surreal to this day. “It’s just so much bigger than I thought it would be,” she said. With COVID-19 still going on, she and her dad aren’t stopping anytime soon, encouraging people to post about their go-to stores and shopping local in any way they can.
While they couldn’t tell MRN what they have in store, both creators say they have a few fun things set for their page, with plans to post about it in the near future.