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Ann Arbor businesses turn to GoFundMe during COVID-19 outbreak

Monahan's Seafood Market staff and family members. (Monahan's Seafood Market)

ANN ARBOR – As cases of COVID-19 rise in the area, the situation for many local businesses has become dire.

Those deemed non-essential have been forced to close, others, like Literati Bookstore, have elected to close, and some are operating at a bare minimum to hold onto any income they can generate.

In a plea to keep staff and operations afloat, many businesses have turned to the popular fundraising site GoFundMe to garner community support during these trying times.

Here is a list of GoFundMe pages for Ann Arbor businesses:

Support Literati Bookstore

Funds raised to date: $114,116

Literati was the first local business to close its doors “indefinitely” amid the pandemic, citing concerns for community and staff safety. The bookstore made headlines when it raised $100,000 just two days after launching its fundraising site. In response to the successful campaign, co-owner Mike Gustafson wrote:

“I want to be clear that Hilary and I are not seeing a dime of any of this. This is all to pay our liabilities now and going forward: Rent, bills, payroll.”

Literati is continuing with online sales and is making coffee bean deliveries from Literati Coffee around town.

To make a donation, click here.

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Support Ann Arbor’s Hometown Fish Market

Funds raised to date: $49,895

Monahan’s Seafood Market in Kerrytown Market & Shops has turned to the community for support since business has declined due to the pandemic.

Owner Mike Monahan launched a GoFundMe and wrote:

“It’s not part of our self sufficient fishmonger pride to ask anything from our customers who already do so much in supporting us. However, these are times like we’ve never experienced in our lives and hopefully never will again.”

Read: Owner of Monahan’s Seafood Market in Ann Arbor reflects on 40 years of business

For those who give a donation of $50 or more, Monahan’s is offering a free T-shirt and a gift card that will give a 10% discount off any purchase (good for one year).

Monahan’s is still open daily and is offering retail, lunch, carry out and curbside pickup. Check out its Twitter account for mouthwatering lunch specials.

The fish market is at 407 N. 5th Ave.

To make a donation, click here.

Save the Caravan Shop, a 93 year old business

Funds raised to date: $5,920

The Caravan Gift Shop in Nickels Arcade just steps away from University of Michigan’s campus is one of Ann Arbor’s oldest retail destinations, and it hopes to celebrate its 100th anniversary after all of this is over, according to owner Rhonda Gilpin.

The shop has been closed since March 14 and has suffered a “devastating loss of business.” Without proper funding to pay its staff, rent, utilities and artisans, Gilpin fears it will have to permanently close its doors.

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The Caravan Gift Shop first opened it's doors in 1927 and has been a fixture in the Ann Arbor community ever since. Yes, that's right the Caravan Gift Shop is 93 years young and we're sure hoping to make it to 100 years old! We take pride in creating a place that brings smiles to people's faces. A place that showcases beautiful things created by very talented artists. And a place that is both quant and welcoming. As the Caravan Gift Shop struggles with a devastating loss of business due to this pandemic and the fact that we have been closed to the public since March 14th, we are running out of cash to pay our rent, utilities, payroll, artisans, and make sure we have enough cash on-hand to re-open. With your help, we can raise enough funds to weather this storm and emerge on the other side of this crisis intact and ready to serve our neighbors in our community. This campaign will help support the Caravan Gift Shop both in the immediate and over the next several months. Any money raised over our goal amount we will be sharing with other small businesses in the historic Nickels Arcade. You might recognize a few of them, such as Comet Coffee, Van Boven Clothing, Van Boven Shoes, Arcade Barber, Mix, Randy Parrish Framing, Apples and Oranges, University Flower Shop, Arcadian Antiques, Bivouac and Mason Edwards. If you can give any amount, we are truly grateful. If not, there are other ways to support us and other small businesses in the Nickels Arcade facing similar situations, such as sharing this page with your family and friends, following our social media accounts, purchasing gift cards, or sharing positive reviews on google and yelp. Thank you for letting us be apart of this vibrant community the past 93 years! We appreciate you all so much. We will get thru this together, and will stay in touch with each other, even if it is from more than six feet away. Warmest wishes during trying times, Caravan Gift Shop

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Gilpin wrote on her fundraising site that she will be sharing donations with other nearby shops experiencing the same challenges:

“Any money raised over our goal amount we will be sharing with other small businesses in the historic Nickels Arcade. You might recognize a few of them, such as Comet Coffee, Van Boven Clothing, Van Boven Shoes, Arcade Barber, Mix, Randy Parrish Framing, Apples and Oranges, University Flower Shop, Arcadian Antiques, Bivouac and Mason Edwards.”

To make a donation, click here.

Support the Juicy Kitchen Team Through COVID 19!

Funds raised to date: $10,798

The health-conscious vegetarian and vegan eatery on Ann Arbor’s west side has seen a 75% decrease in sales since it closed its dining room, wrote co-owner Kelby Behan on the restaurant’s fundraising site.

“Most service industry workers live paycheck to paycheck, and now, without warning, will have the paycheck they count on nearly diminished. It breaks our hearts to think of our kind, genuine, supportive, dedicated, hardworking team facing this financial burden during this chaotic time,” wrote Behan.

Juicy Kitchen products are still being sold at Argus Farm Stop.

To make a donation, click here.

Support Ten Thousand Villages through COVID-19

Funds raised to date: $1,700

The retailer on Main Street is a global nonprofit and supports artisans in developing countries by selling their intricate, handmade goods.

While the shop needs funds to pay rent, utilities and payroll, manager Cathy Marks fears its artisans could suffer the most from the store closure.

“Our artisans from developing countries may suffer the most. We want to make sure we have enough cash flow to start supporting them by purchasing from their artisan groups immediately upon reopening the store, rather than scrambling just to keep the lights on,” wrote Marks.

Customers can still make purchases online. Donations are 100% tax deductible.

To make a donation, click here.

Varsity Barber Shop Ann Arbor Staff Support

Total funds raised to date: $1,780

The E. Liberty Street barber shop closed on March 21 and is looking for support for its barbers.

“Our barbers are like family members to us and have worked with us for a number of years. 100% of funds raised will be evenly distributed amongst the barbers - Brian, Tony, Zac, and Kyle - to keep them and their families on their feet during this uncertain time,” wrote management.

To make a donation, click here.

Underground Sounds Must Die... Or Not.

Total funds raised: $7,895

Established in 2001, the independent, locally owned record shop on E. Liberty Street has been “hit very hard” by the effects of the pandemic and fears it will have to cancel Record Store Day on June 20.

“Our goals are simple: pay the rent, pay the independent labels we work with, and keep providing records to the wonderful people of Ann Arbor, and all over the world. We are greatly looking forward to working with all of you in person again sometime soon, and we thank you for your time and unwavering support for our little shop,” wrote its management team.

Records can still be purchased online.

To make a donation, click here.

Help Encore Records

Total funds raised to date: $5,810

Another independently owned record shop on N. 4th Ave. is asking for help. Encore Records closed its doors a week before Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency out of concern for the health of its customers and staff.

“As embarrassing as it is to be asking for this kind of assistance, we put our situation before you. Please note that we are not asking for the money for ourselves: any and all funds that we might be lucky enough to raise from this outreach (we are hoping for $30,000) will go solely to keeping Encore Records alive, and viable for the future," wrote owner Jim Dwyer.

To make a donation, click here.

Support Le Dog COVID-19 Relief in Ann Arbor, MI

Total funds raised to date: $275

Ah, Le Dog. If you’ve tasted their signature soups, you’d know why so many locals have been flocking to this small stand on Main Street since 1979.

GoFundMe COVID-19 Small Business Relief has organized the fundraiser on behalf of Le Dog.

To make a donation, click here.

Support SW Team: Washington, Westgate, Union

Total funds raised to date: $440

The coffee shop that originated on Washington Street is turning to the community to help support its teams at its Washington, Westgate and Michigan Union locations.

Co-owner Lisa Bee wrote that business has decreased dramatically:

“Due to COVID-19 and the restrictions to shut down in-person service inside our cafes, we’ve experienced a tremendous decrease in sales and available hours for our hardworking team members. All donations made to this GoFundMe will be split amongst our cafe staff at Washington St., Westgate Library, and the Michigan Union, all of whom have experienced reduced hours or a complete loss of shift hours during this time.”

All donors will receive a free Sweetwaters tote bag, and those who make donations of $50 or more will receive a free drink and a bag of coffee once its cafes open up again.

Washington St. Sweetwaters is still open for carry out and curbside pick up.

To make a donation, click here.

Rescue the Rescue!

The Creature Conservancy is a nonprofit that rescues wild animals and is known for its educational programming in wildlife conservation for all ages.

The conservancy could face closure if it doesn’t receive funding soon, wrote head curator Steve Marsh:

"Aside from donations, the entirety of The Creature Conservancy’s revenue has disappeared due to the coronavirus shutdowns. No more class field trips, no private tours, no income from admission fees, no gift shop sales.

“It would be tragic for animals like Al, the alligator whose rescue literally started the Conservancy, to lose the best home he’s ever had. It would be tragic to cease our wildlife educational programming and animal advocacy work.”

The conservancy has had to make drastic staff cuts and its entire volunteer team is at home due to public safety concerns.

To make a donation, click here.

Help the staff of Babs Underground!

Total funds raised to date: $2,035

“One of the hardest things we’ve had to do is close our doors during the government-mandated shutdown. Our staff deserve to be protected financially after years of dedication to Babs,” wrote organizer Sara Nogle.

100% of funds raised will go to Babs employees.

To make a donation, click here.

Help Support the Nightcap/LoFi Staff

Total funds raised to date: $6,160

Sister bars Nightcap and LoFi on Main Street had to close and lay off staff after dine-in establishments were forced to close statewide.

“If you’ve enjoyed a cocktail in the dreamy space of Nightcap or a cold beer in the bright and bumpin’ LoFi, been greeted by Corin’s smiling face when you walk in the door, been told one of Jodi’s hilarious jokes behind the bar, or had the pleasure of having a cocktail created for you by our bearded leader Andy, we ask you to please consider donating,” wrote staff.

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Due to the sudden closures of dine-in establishments our bars are temporarily closed leaving our staff laid off for an indefinite amount of time. If you’ve enjoyed a cocktail in the dreamy space of Nightcap or a cold beer in the bright and bumpin’ LoFi, been greeted by Corin’s smiling face when you walk in the door, been told one of Jodi’s hilarious jokes behind the bar, or had the pleasure of having a cocktail created for you by our bearded leader Andy, we ask you to please consider donating. We all miss serving you - our community - so much! Amidst all this unknown we are also looking to our community to help alleviate some of the drawbacks to the scary reality we’re facing as hosts, servers, bartenders, and barbacks without our jobs. Please consider donating to our beautiful and loving crew! We hope everyone has been adjusting to the sudden changes as best as possible and staying in good health! We can’t wait to see you healthy and happy when we’re back up and running! Yours forever and always, The Nightcap/LoFi staff (link in bio!)

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To make a donation, click here.

Help the AUT BAR Staff

Total funds raised to date: $2,075

The watering hole in Kerrytown’s Braun Court has shut its doors and its turning to the community to raise funds for its staff.

100% of proceeds will go to employees.

To make a donation, click here.

Help Hospitality Industry Workers

Total funds raised to date: $2,245

Organized by executive chef at The Standard Bistro & Larder, Allie Lyttle, this fund is going toward hospitality workers and their families.

“We are creating a fund for Michigan based hospitality workers to be able to pay their bills - keep their lights and heat on - and feed their families. Please consider donating whatever you can. We have a list of employees who need help and we will be giving out what we have to who we can.”

To make a donation, click here.

Ann Arbor’s BT’z

Total funds raised to date: $660

Bongz & Thongz opened on E. Liberty Street in 2012 and is one of the oldest smoke shops in downtown Ann Arbor.

“With Hash Bash postponed and possibly the Art fair, we are already losing out on some of the biggest sales to keep our store afloat. Currently, due to the COVID-19 situation, we are hurting as business owners to pay our rent, utilities, wholesalers, and workers. As small business owners, we need to be able to take care of our workers especially and continue their income during these awful times. The unexpected costs are unparalleled with no way for us to make an income and make it a safe environment for our workers and customers,” wrote the owners.

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CURB SIDE PICK UP ONLY! Call 734 585 5613

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The store is still open for curbside pick ups.

To make a donation, click here.

Help the Zal Gaz Grotto Stay Open

Total funds raised to date: $8,557

The live music venue on Ann Arbor’s west side has been part of the Ann Arbor community since 1911.

“We support the action taken by our governor to protect public health but the loss of revenue while closed will hit us very hard. We ask our tribe of music makers, music lovers and footloose friends and fans to help us through this difficult time,” wrote the organizers.

To make a donation, click here.

Help Keep Thrive Alive Fundraiser

Total funds raised to date: $1,870

Though Thrive Fitness has closed its doors, it has been providing the public with free home workouts on its YouTube channel, Live to Thrive.

“As much as we love providing these videos for you all, we want to make sure Thrive stays alive during this drastic shutdown period, and that we’re able to cover the gyms bills without stress and worry as some clients have needed to freeze their billing and payment,” wrote personal trainer Alexus Pace-Patterson.

To make a donation, click here.


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