During the dog days of summer, Andrea McAnally posed a question to her east Dallas neighbors on Facebook. She published an informal poll about hiring Fletcher’s Original Corny Dogs to set up a pop-up stand in their neighborhood.
The teacher and mom of three said it didn’t take long for hundreds to chime in. Collectively, the neighborhood committed to the 300-item minimum to bring Fletcher’s to them.
“I knew our neighborhood was pretty good about social distancing and staying apart and everybody is bored,” said McAnally.
In Allen, another teacher and mom of two was looking for a change of scenery when she came across a website called Swimply – kind of an Airbnb for pools.
“Our neighborhood pool has been closed,” explained Ashley Weller.
So, she booked the use of a pool in Dallas for a few hours.
“It was quality time in a fun setting that we hadn’t had before,” said Weller.
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Swimply co-founder Asher Weinberger said it’s a contactless transaction, pool owners don’t interact with guests. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said there’s no evidence COVID-19 can spread to humans through recreational waters, though social distancing is still recommended.
“You can hang out with your family or with your close group of friends and you can go somewhere where you’re not interacting with people outside your immediate bubble,” said Weinberger.
Hosts offer the use of a private pool for the average cost of $35 to $45 an hour.
“The average booking is somewhere between two or three hours, so you can have a really great afternoon for $100,” said Weinberger.
At Highland Park Village, stylists are offering personal shopping services over Zoom or Facetime at no charge. Stylists shop for the client at Highland Park Village stores, then deliver the clothes directly to the shopper at home.
“It’s really a great way to be able to stay as safe as possible. You’re not leaving your house, but you’re getting those wardrobe needs,” said Highland Park Village Chief Marketing Officer Victoria Snee. “We are seeing a huge up-tick in people taking advantage of that complimentary service.”
At a salon called Cerón Highland Park, hair stylists and nail technicians are also willing to make house calls. The cost runs double what it would for an in-salon treatment.
“When you come into the salon, all of the safety precautions are taken,” said Snee. “For those few clients that still are a little bit wary about coming into a salon, it’s nice to have that option of having someone come into your home and be able to provide those same services.”
For cinema fans who want a private movie theatre experience, the Moviehouse and Eatery chain of theatres will rent out an entire theatre for $250. The price includes unlimited popcorn and soda for up to 10 people. There’s an additional charge for larger groups.
Businesses in the pandemic are increasingly trying to adapt or at least remind customers of alternative ways to take advantage of their services.
At Swimply, Weinberger said the idea launched as a way to help hosts cover pool maintenance costs. Now that the pandemic has chipped away at incomes, hosts are using their pools to help supplement their mortgages.
“What we used to offer is something people wanted, now it’s something that people need,” said Weinberger.
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