Little Current restaurateurs seek to lift economic doldrums

Denise Callaghan poses with a selection of area business gift cards. Every time an Anchor gift certificate is purchased, the Callaghans will purchase gift cards from other businesses as a way to ‘pay it forward.’ photo by Warren Schlote

LITTLE CURRENT – The outpouring of Island support that Anchor Inn restaurant co-owners Denise and Chris Callaghan have experienced since the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions forced their business to go takeout-only got the Little Current couple thinking about what they could do to help less fortunate businesses threatened by the forced shutdowns.

“We have had such incredible support from the community,” said Ms. Callaghan when contacted by The Expositor about their innovative plan to pay it forward. “We are trying to share the wealth.”

Ms. Callaghan noted that many Island businesses, especially those deemed “non-essential” and whose business does not lend itself to curbside ordering and pickup, are being hit hard. She went on to explain that she and her partner Mr. Callaghan decided that for every gift card that customers purchase, they would in turn buy gift cards from other businesses. So far the plan has proven to be an outstanding success.

“Yesterday I sold $300 worth of gift cards at the Anchor and we have been contacting business owners to buy gift cards from them that will be used once this is all over and they can re-open,” she said. “This year we will be giving out gift cards from Island businesses for family birthdays and such.”

The couple are encouraging people to give gift cards for takeout meals to folks they know who are isolated, particularly those who might be especially vulnerable or lonely due to the pandemic. “It’s a way to show that you are thinking about someone,” said Ms. Callaghan. “But this way we are all able to also help other Island businesses to get through this.”

The gift cards are also a great way to show those essential workers on the front lines in our lives how much we appreciate them being there for us.

Ms. Callaghan said she was impressed with how the pandemic has really brought out the best in most people. “They have been very generous with our staff,” she said. “I don’t normally like to talk about tips, but people have been very generous with our staff. Takeout tips usually go to the kitchen staff, but with the loss of the sit-down diners the kitchen staff have chosen to share the tips with the serving staff at the counter.”

Ms. Callaghan said that the community is in this all together and that this is one way she and her husband can do their part to pay it forward to other Island businesses. 

Every time an Anchor gift certificate is purchased, the Callaghans will purchase gift cards from other businesses as a way to ‘pay it forward.’ photo by Warren Schlote

With a lot of people out of work and ‘non-essential’ businesses shut down during the pandemic restrictions there will be fallout rippling through the economy. By choosing to pay it forward through buying gift cards from Island businesses, everyone can do their part to support the local economy and ensure that goods and services continue to be available once the danger has passed.

Simple economics shows that the more a dollar moves around in a local community, the more impact that dollar has on raising the overall economic well-being of that community—it’s generally called the multiplier effect and its impact can be hugely significant.

“We need everyone to get through this as best we can,” she said. “If we all pull together and do what we can to support local businesses we will eventually get through this.”