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When times get tough, stick together

In Bar Harbor, small businesses are helping each other during the COVID-19 pandemic by offering incentives to customers.
Credit: NEWS CENTER Maine

BAR HARBOR, Maine — Bar Harbor is a community that relies heavily on the summer tourist season. But because of COVID-19, this summer might look different.

Many of the cruise ships that were scheduled to head to Bar Harbor's coast won't be coming anymore. That's why now more than ever, the Bar Harbor community is supporting its local businesses.

For many, business is slow—or even non-existent.

"Usually everybody's starting to get ready to open everybody's outside doing projects because we've been stuck inside all winter," Alex Mafucci, Atlantic Brewing owner said. "It just feels like this extended February like this never ending month."

In just a few months, under normal circumstances, the now quiet Bar Harbor streets would be filled with visitors.

RELATED: Summer may be coming, but Bar Harbor is urging you to stay home

But this year, Mafucci, like many other restaurants and breweries, is adapting to things like curbside, delivery, and takeout.

Just down the street from Atlantic Brewing is Side Street Cafe.

It's owner, Jena Young, said she and her team are also adapting to these new tools.

"We've built a well-oiled machine and all of a sudden one day we realize that we have to take the entire machine apart and rebuild it," she said.

Part of rebuilding for these Bar Harbor business owners means working together.

Mafucci and Young are offering incentives to support each other.

So if you get takeout from Atlantic Brewing, it comes with $5 off at Side Street, and vice versa.

"It's a pretty simple little plan to allow people to travel back and forth," Mafucci said. "To sort of encourage folks to go to both spots and get a deal if you do."

Both business owners say they're feeling the love from their community but say it might not be enough to make up for a slow summer.

"I don't know how long it can sustain our entire community and this entire state full of small businesses," Young said.

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Young added it's not just Bar Harbor businesses that need community support, but the entire state of Maine. She said when restrictions are lifted, we should try to travel within the state.

"It's a great way to explore our own state and support," she said.

Mafucci added that Maine relies heavily on tourism. 

"Sales tax, lodging tax and income tax for our budget and two of those are directly tied to tourism and income tax is hard to collect if people aren't working," he said.

RELATED: Protesters in Bangor demand full opening of state amid the coronavirus

RELATED: Gov. Mills launches first meeting of 'Economic Recovery Committee'

RELATED: Maine tourism groups call for an end to 14-day quarantine rule for out-of-state visitors


At NEWS CENTER Maine, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: /coronavirus

NEWS CENTER Maine Coronavirus Coverage

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