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Local Businesses adapting and innovating to remain afloat

Questions circle around when federal and state aid will arrive to help businesses remain open.

CONNECTICUT, USA — It’s no secret that times are tough for local businesses across the state. Some have chosen to close their doors altogether during this time of uncertainty. Questions circle around when federal and state aid will arrive to help businesses remain open. Until that happens some local businesses are using this time as an opportunity to reach clientele in new ways.

"If it wasn’t for me making up that idea the other day I wouldn’t have had any sales," said Jackie Mejia

An idea that Mejia, the owner of Valentino’s  Restaurant in Ledyard, came up with to give families a chance to cook together. Do it Yourself Pizza Kits.

"I started doing it over the past few days and it went crazy the first day," said Mejia. 

The pizza kit includes 16-inch dough, sauce and two choices of toppings. The kids even get aprons and chef hats.

"The kids love it and we’re gonna continue to do this from now on," said Mejia. 

Other pizza shops like Mario’s in Waterbury have done similar while places like Zuppardi’s in West Haven saw this as an opportunity to reach clients' social distancing in a new way. Their famed food truck came out of hibernation early to make fresh deliveries right to your door.

"Giving them a little sense of normalcy, fun, kids look out the window and kids come outside to see it," said Jim Ormrod. 

The food truck is going to a town a day Thursday to Sunday making fresh pies right in your driveway. Orders can be placed by email or on Facebook. Ormrod, a fourth-generation Zuppardi, maps out a plan and then comes to you.

"I’m the only one on the truck. I drive into your driveway to make your order. I typically will just honk the horn when it’s ready," said Ormrod. 

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The food industry isn’t the only business getting creative. Norwalk based Ranger Ready insect repellent took a whole new approach to their product line. Founder and CEO Chris Fuentes says the company saw an opportunity to do more for the community by creating hand sanitizer.

"Insect repellent and hand sanitizers have many of the same similar components," said Fuentes. "In fact, we have a great spray bottle and we already had the formula. The FDA gave us a swift green light and we thought let’s go."

Since then they rolled out the new product in just six-days! An operation that should have taken six-months.

"Our first production coming off the line April 10th will go to medical emergency teams and hospitals who need it in Connecticut the most."

The product now available for preorder online will become a staple going forward to protect the community from not only mosquito and tick-borne illness but human-to-human contact as well. 

"Maybe we’ll step back at some time and kind of realize that we are able to do something maybe special to help the community but for now we’re just trying to create more product and get the folks who need it," said Fuentes. 

Business owners say the community has done a lot to support small businesses during this tough time. As much as the coronavirus has been hard to handle, it’s also forced companies to innovate. Innovation that will last long after the spread slows.