Shopping locally: A guide to keeping your favorite Dinkytown businesses open

A&E’s guide to supporting local businesses during quarantine.

A man wearing a face mask stands in the window of Hong Kong Noodles Restaurant on Saturday, March 21.

Kamaan Richards

A man wearing a face mask stands in the window of Hong Kong Noodles Restaurant on Saturday, March 21.

Ksenia Gorinshteyn

Reader, these are unprecedented times. Especially for Minneapolis’ local businesses.

Places like Electric Fetus and Como Tap had normal operations one day and found themselves closing shop the next. Of course, as customers, the best and safest thing to do is stay inside. However, our local businesses find themselves still needing support.

“Local businesses are your neighbors,” said Aaron Meyerring, who co-owns Electric Fetus with his wife Stephanie. “When you spend money at a local business, the majority of that money stays in your community and we hire your kids, your family members, your neighbors. That’s what’s important.”

As COVID-19 persists, local businesses’ futures are uncertain. Some don’t know how long they’ll be able to pay their employees or their rent, let alone stay afloat.

If you’ve got a steady and reliable paycheck coming in for the next few months, consider supporting those around you with these few tips.

Order takeout from local restaurants

While it’s tempting to want to satisfy your Chipotle craving rather than digging into your supply of canned soup, consider ordering from elsewhere. Restaurants like Shuang Cheng in Dinkytown and Thai Cuisine Xpress in Como are fulfilling takeout orders during regular business hours. Al’s Breakfast in Dinkytown is also offering bulk meals, meaning you can order a quart of pancake batter to make at home (if you’re wondering, a quart makes about eight of their pancakes), says Alison Kirwin, owner of Al’s Breakfast. 

Before calling to place an order, check the restaurant’s Facebook page for updates on hours and services. Some restaurants (Como Tap included) have had to reduce operations to be able to cover some costs.

“I think that everybody is going to realize that their local communities were hit, and I think they’re going to want to support them when they come out of this,” said Jana Kern, a co-owner of Como Tap.

Tip a little extra or buy gift cards if you can

If you’re ordering out, consider tipping more than 20%. The employees at our local restaurants are working amid all of this chaos, so show them that you appreciate that. Again, if you’ve got a paycheck coming in and can swing it, your support helps these businesses and their employees immensely. 

If you can’t really afford to spend that extra money on a meal and a tip, a lot of businesses are offering gift cards. Even if food isn’t what you’re after, Electric Fetus is offering what is normally their holiday special — buy $50 in gift cards and get $10 free. Some tattoo shops also offer certificates for future use. The specifics for gift cards are listed on the websites of your favorite local businesses, so send them $10 if you can.

“It’s not like a grocery store where they hope every customer is going to spend at least $100 and they’re going to make $10 off of it,” said Ryan Hinderaker, one of the managers at the Book House in Dinkytown. “We hope people come in and spend $10 and we make $3 off of it, or something like that.”

If you’re looking to kill some time, the Book House also has a cart of free books right outside their store.

If you’ve still got a need for online shopping, do so with your favorite local business.

In this day and age, most Minneapolis businesses have their inventory online. If you’re someone who really loves to online shop and need some things to do during quarantine, order from your favorite local business. Electric Fetus is offering 10% off electronics, the Book House will personally look through their 40,000+ inventory for you and Hideaway is doing curbside delivery.

“Everyone I know right now is somehow directly impacted by this,” Meyerring said. “It happened literally overnight and I’ve never seen anything like this. Now’s the time for everyone to pull together as a community. We’re all human beings, and the way we’re going to get through this is to unite as human beings.”