How Some Reno-Tahoe Businesses Served Their Local Communities
In the setting of an iconic destination emerged resilience and kindness.
From the snow-capped mountain shores of Lake Tahoe to the modern Bonanza that is Virginia City, the Reno-Tahoe Territory is an iconic region that turned to community outreach and creative solutions in light of the pandemic. Much like the landscape itself, business owners in Reno-Tahoe remained vigorous and creative and turned a tourism-focused mindset to one of community and local outreach.
After one year of COVID-19 shutdowns, standout businesses in Reno-Sparks, Carson City, Carson Valley, Virginia City, North and South Lake Tahoe, Nevada, demonstrated resilience, innovation and community.
Keeping the Arts Alive in Reno-Sparks
Reno’s Artown is a premier arts festival and grant-awarded non-profit organization devoted to encouraging local artist participation while showcasing the best performers from around the world in northern Nevada. While the festival went virtual in July 2021, Artown knew the youth and school programs would be impacted. So, the organization sprung into action by activating the “Heartown” campaign. “Heartown” distributed 1,000 art kits to underserved communities and youth programs. The kits were donated by supporters and built by volunteers with the goal to “bring normalcy and joy to less fortunate kids.”
Changing the Tune in Carson City
The Brewery Arts Center in Nevada’s capitol, Carson City, found a creative way to fulfill their mission of cultivating the arts and culture when their free weekly summer concert series could not go on. Full bands climbed onto a flatbed trailer and slowly drove through the neighborhoods of town, each week bringing music to people who could safely experience it from their homes or socially distanced on the streets. Many local businesses sponsored, donated and made it possible, bringing joy and smiles to everyone who heard the music coming. Arts in the Park, a free program for kids, was transformed into pre-made kits that were handed out to kids along the way, providing a way for kids to stay connected to the arts throughout the summer.
Masks and Meals in Carson Valley
VIP Rubber and Plastic in Minden emerged as a community leader when the pandemic hit. The family-owned and operated manufacturer of rubber and plastic connected with the local quilt guild to provide plastic straps to be used for homemade fabric masks to be provided through the local chamber to businesses and guests. VIP Rubber and Plastic proudly donated the plastic, supporting the distribution of hundreds of beautifully sewn masks.
Also in Carson Valley, the Carson Valley Inn in Minden closed its doors early in the development of the pandemic. As a prominent employer in the region, the hotel’s management did not take this lightly and continued to support their employees by preparing free daily family meals for every employee. The Carson Valley Inn provided so much food that surplus meals were donated to the Sheriff’s Department and distributed to families in need.
Spreading Cheer and Hope in Virginia City
The Virginia and Truckee Railroad in Virginia City is a historic steam train dating back more than 150 years and one of the most famous American short lines. Recognizing its significance as a historical fixture in the Virginia City community, V&T Railroad Vice President Tom Gray invested thousands of dollars in an Electric Holiday Train O’Lights with the intent to selflessly spread cheer throughout a community struck hard by the pandemic. With capacity restrictions in place, Gray knew he would likely lose money on the event, but did it to support many who needed holiday cheer as well as the many locally-owned shops hurt badly by the lack of tourism.
Beers and Boards in North Lake Tahoe
When Alibi Aleworks in Incline Village saw their Incline Public House threatened by pandemic shutdowns, the community stepped in to help the beloved brewery stay open. After just a month’s time, a GoFundMe Campaign earned enough in crowdfunds for the brewery to quickly construct an outdoor space that complied with regional guidelines. Locals say the contribution was the least they could do for a business that regularly collaborates in support of animal rescue, avalanche awareness, independent print publications and other charitable partnerships.
Village Ski Loft in Incline Village saw a surge in snowsport equipment interest. The local sport shop took it as their responsibility to help as many people as possible to enjoy beautiful Lake Tahoe in a responsible manner, while also ensuring safety when picking up their equipment. The shop quickly established safety measures for reservations and gear pick-up.
Keeping Community Safe in South Lake Tahoe
Entertainment hub Mont Blu Resort, Casino and Spa in South Lake Tahoe is proud to call itself Lake Tahoe’s first and only casino with a SafeTravels Stamp from the World Travel & Tourism Council. By following best practices guidelines, Mont Blu was able to reopen in June 2020, and offer guests options like contactless stay and a Mask Mania promotion. Mont Blue also recognizes first responders by offering 50% off at Café Del Soul, Sundays to Thursdays.
The Zephyr Point Presbyterian Conference Center in Zephyr Cove saw a need amongst community college students stuck at home and required to attend classes online. The conference center, used to hosting groups and now finding itself empty and unused, created a bubble for the local students where they had a chance to safely gather for peer engagement and outdoor adventures. The bubble remains COVID-free.