When the pandemic arrived Rod Medwid and Kendra Petley decided to help their family and friends stay in business.
On April 1, they launched a Facebook page so local businesses – particularly the food and beauty industries – could tell the community what they can offer, despite closures and social distancing.
“I created it simply to help close friends post menus and talk about pandemic strategies,” says Medwid, who owns a kitchen renovation company. Wife Kendra is a lash artist and owns Lalology Beauty.
“Together, we know a lot of people and thought we’d get maybe 250 members,” he said. “We weren’t expecting this.”
Medwid’s Facebook group grew to more than 5,200 members in four weeks. He estimates half are local business people anxious to let the city know they’re still open.
“I guess people needed this more than I thought,” he said. “When something is right it promotes itself, apparently.”
The group’s name has evolved to be more inclusive and is now called Supporting Sarnia Business During COVID-19.
One of its most popular features is restaurant reviews, is which the Medwid family orders takeout and sits around the dinner table discussing their meal. Kingsley, 7, and Brixton, 15 months, participate and are edited into short videos by Medwid.
“The restaurants that we have reviewed are messaging me and saying their sales are doubling once they’re featured,” he said. “We’re really hyping take out and the businesses are very appreciative.”
The group holds virtual concerts featuring local musicians and encourages donations to charity during the performances.
Andrew Borody, Scott Manery, Marty Oblak and Dave Russell have been featured artists, raising more than $2,000 for the Inn of the Good Shepherd and other non-profits.
Some musicians, left gig-less by the pandemic, get 25% of the proceeds.
A lengthy period of isolation is hard on residents and bringing music into their home can help, said Medwid.
The site’s popularity has required the couple to spend considerable working time reviewing it to remove mean-spirited posts, which have fortunately been few.
“Kendra and I spend a lot of time monitoring the group,” he said. “So we are launching a line of merchandise with a ‘Supporting Sarnia Businesses’ logo we designed to cover the cost of running the site.”
Medwid said he’s happy to provide what he calls a ‘menu of all the menus’ in town.
“For me, it’s about the support and the love. I am a positive kind of guy and this group is making me feel good every day.”
‘Supporting Sarnia Business During COVID-19’ is on Facebook.
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