When the Governor issued the stay-at-home order closing restaurants and retail shops in March 2020, the organizers of Charles Town Now (CTN) moved quickly to implement a curbside takeout and gift card program. One year later CTN noted the anniversary with the slogan “One Year, Still Here.” The group’s plucky attitude helped earn Charles Town a second place award nationally in the American Express “Order In, Help Out Innovation Challenge.” Entries were judged on strategy, innovation, engagement, feasibility, and results.
Liz Cook, whose job as Downtown Coordinator for the City of Charles Town also includes the role of Program Director for CTN, described how the curbside program came together: “Within 24 hours, the City approved the signs, and we had the cones and signs on the streets within 48 hours. Every day it was just a group of people asking how do we make it easy to shop and spend money downtown? We were live [on social media] every day, then we produced the music video [Rocking That Curbside] that took off. It just happened organically.”
Cook noted that the results were particularly tangible: “We lost only one business directly related to the pandemic. And our second-place award is impressive when you compare the size of Charles Town to the other cities who competed [all of the other winners have 4 to 30 times the population of Charles Town].” To paraphrase the song lyrics in the video, Charles Town rocked.