RIDGEWOOD, NJ -- Stephanie Willoughby checked in with Tony Damiano, Owner of Mango Jam, a popular gift shop in town, to see how he was faring during the pandemic, after he and his store were featured on HomeGrown’s Ridgewood episode last fall. 

Damiano is also President of the Ridgewood Guild, a nonprofit organization dedicated to revitalizing the Village of Ridgewood, and Willoughby spoke with him about plans for new initiatives to be instituted to both keep people safe and help local small businesses as New Jersey enters Phase 2 of the state’s Restart and Recovery program

Business at Mango Jam has been slow, understandably, since non-essential retail had many limitations over the past several months. In May, his business had to contend with losing revenue that Mother’s Day gifts would have brought in; the holiday is the second-busiest time of year for them. 

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However, he spoke of the work that has been done by the Ridgewood Guild over the course of the pandemic. “Ridgewood is doing the best we can to supply food and meals to our frontliners and supporting our nonprofits,” said Damiano. Donations were made to Ridgecrest Senior Center, Valley Hospital, as well as organizations providing social services for the less fortunate. 

Now that New Jersey is about to enter Phase 2, which allows for outdoor dining and limited retail, the Guild has been talking with town officials about how to support local businesses more. There are some exciting things planned this summer, such as partially closing streets and creating pedestrian walkways. “In that way, retailers and restaurants could put additional tables outside,” said Damiano, in order to replace the loss of space and tables inside, he explained. 

The Guild will also expand their Music in the Night outdoor concert series, while of course, still practicing social distancing. “We’re still carrying on with a great community spirit,” said Damiano.

The Guild has put together a list of businesses in town still active during the pandemic: https://www.ridgewoodguild.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Ridgewood-Active-Business_4_2020.pdf. A list of restaurants in Bergen County, NJ, including those in Ridgewood, that will be offering outdoor seating can be found here: https://www.boozyburbs.com/outdoor-dining-bergen-county.