BERLIN – Town officials warned residents about several fraudulent GoFundMe pages claiming to support Berlin businesses this week.
Ivy Wells, the town’s economic and community development director, asked residents not to donate to GoFundMe pages claiming to support Berlin businesses.
“None of the businesses have put GoFundMe pages up,” Wells said.
Wells said she was contacted by Sisters on Sunday when the shop had been made aware of a fundraising page in its name asking for support. Wells said she’d been told there were similar pages for DiFebo’s Restaurant and Papa John’s Pizza. She said this week she thought all the pages had been taken down but warned residents about them nonetheless.
“It was important to make sure people didn’t donate to those,” she said.
Wells said she was working to support local merchants as they explored the variety of assistance programs available through the state and federal government. She said that while there were still a lot of unanswered questions she was happy to share her knowledge with local small business owners and help them get their concerns addressed. She’s also encouraging landlords to work with merchants who may be struggling to pay their rent.
“These are very strange times we’re living in,” she said. “All I can do is help the businesses the best I can for the time being.”
She said many of the town’s restaurants were keeping as busy as they could with carryout and delivery. J&M Meat Market and the Atlantic Hotel — which is marketing the “Culinary Relief Package” for dinners — are doing well in particular.
“People are tired of cooking and they want to support the local restaurants,” Wells said.
While some Berlin retail shops were offering curbside service, Monday’s stay-at-home directive ended that. In an interview Wednesday Berlin Mayor Gee Williams acknowledged the lasting effect COVID-19 would have on the local businesses.
“At this time, it seems like it’s going to impact well beyond the stay-at-home order,” he said. “I don’t think we’ll be the hardest hit…but I do think we need to be cautious.”
Williams hopes the federal and state government will do all they can to help.
“They’re going to have to do some new and creative things to limit the adverse economic impact for all businesses, particularly small businesses,” he said.