The Corona crisis is hitting every industry hard, and especially small businesses are struggling to keep their head above water. Many are coming up with new, creative ways in an attempt to bridge the gap left by quarantine. Here are 15 ways to support your local scene during lockdown, from bookshops and cafés to clubs and restaurants.
1 Photography books: Tipi online store
Located in St. Gilles’ Munthofstraat since 2012, Tipi is the only bookshop in Belgium dedicated to self-published photobooks from around the world, providing strong support for independent publishing both online and offline. It’s a lovely place to hang out, rummage through rare printed photography gems from all around the world, and have a chat with the welcoming owner, photography passionate Andrea Copetti. And while visits are of course not possible these days, Tipi’s online store is up and running, offering free shipping all over Belgium as well as a reusable washable mask. The carefully curated book selection includes jewels such as Devendra Benhart’s “I Left My Noodle on Ramen Street”, Daisuke Yokota’s “Berlin”, or Marlies De Boeck’s “Iluliaq”.
2 Nightlife: Fuse
A club and record label since 1994, Fuse is one of Belgium’s longest-running electronic music institutions that has hosted some of the most innovative DJs around, from Sven Väth to Ricardo Villalobos. Naturally, these are extremely tough times for the nightlife scene, which is why the creative minds behind the legendary club have come up with a clever way to help them make it through this lengthy dance drought. To be able to continue its mission after the lockdown, party goers can purchase vouchers and exchange it for a ticket for any future Fuse night, no matter the line-up. You can also make a donation (starting at 6€) or buy merchandising – anything helps! More here.
3 Support for hospital workers: 8pm
Clapping your hands every evening at 8pm seems barely enough considering what healthcare workers are going through these days. And that’s where this brand new app, 8pm, comes in: developed pro bono by Brussels start-up Hello Tyro, it provides a new way to support hospital personnel while, at the same time, helping local restaurants. 8pm allows you to buy meals for stressed and tired healthcare workers cooked by Brussels eateries such as Bobbi Bao, Fonteyne the Kitchen, Yolo Juice, Pho Diem Xuan and Thai Saté. Download the app here.
4 Interior: La Caravane
La Caravane offers carefully selected second hand furniture and handpicked deco objects, from lamps and flowerpots to shelves and sofas. All pieces are lovingly renovated by the founder herself. If you want to beautify your home during these long weeks of confinement, follow La Caravane on Instagram, where Claire regularly introduces new objects available for sale. With the physical store shut down, she now offers deliveries twice a week.
5 Drinks: FFORMATT
Nightlife venue FFORMATT, a temporary platform that occupies no less than 1000 m2 in a large building in the center of Brussels, strives to host parties that are sustainable, safe, and open-minded. While the dancefloor is out of order for now, drinks are available aplenty. Accordingly, the FFORMATT crew decided to transform their project into a Drinks Pick up & Delivery aka Dranken Centrale. There are lots of different packages available, both with and without alcohol. On the menu: beer from the oldest family brewery in Belgium as well as organic Cava, juices and Vermouth. All the stuff you usually refresh yourself with on the dance floor! Pick up the drinks of your choice directly at FFORMATT every Friday between 17 and 19h00 or get them delivered to your doorstep. And right before publication, face masks were added to the online shop as well.
6 Film: Cinema Storck
Since 2007, the Ostend film festival takes over the costal city every September. But during the rest of the year, the town has had not much on offer for local cinephiles – until the festival organizers decided to launch “Cinema Storck”, an initiative bringing arthouse movies and author cinema to Ostend. Named after Henri Storck, a Belgian documentary maker born in the city by the sea, the project screens an exquisite selection of international and Belgian films each week. It’s a tough world out there for cinemas with the rise of the streaming services, and the Corona crisis is only aggravating it. With screenings being impossible right now, Cinema Storck is offering the films that would usually be shown on the big screen online. Have a look here.
7 Books: Tropismes
Independent Brussels bookshop Tropismes, located in a stunning location in the Galeries Royales, focuses on literature and art books. During the lockdown, it has established a delivery service, and you can browse available titles here.
8 Food: Hinterland
Missing your daily coffee-to-go and healthy breakfasts, brunches and lunches that you don’t have to prepare yourself? Hinterland is now open on weekends for takeaway and on Deliveroo, making sure you can indulge in Acai bowls, pancakes, flat whites and green juices, with a focus on vegan recipes and ecological solutions. Another way to help is buying the stylish tote bag pictured above and/or a gift voucher.
9 Photography: Initials L.A.
Talent agency and production company Initials L.A., specialized in photography, tries to help its workless photographers with creative solutions. As a response to the current crisis, it launched an online store named “We are all in this together”, offering affordable limited edition prints. All the profits will be divided equally between the photographers. Among them are Belgian heavyweights such as Serge Leblon but also upcoming homegrown talents such as Eva Donckers.
10 Music: Crevette Records
Small, independent record shops already have a hard time surviving in corona-free times. Luckily, Brussels’ Crevette Records invites music nerds to some serious online crate-digging, focusing on techno, house, minimal, and everything that’s danceable. On sale is also a brand new local release, a collab between Basic Moves & Listen Festival, with tracks from Walrus & DJ Booth. You can also show support by buying gift cards or a solidarity t-shirt thought up together with fellow local music initiatives C12 and Kiosk.
11 Plants: Little Green Stories
Little Green Stories, a lovely plant shop based in Ghent, is filled with a varied range of houseplants, pots, baskets and greenery accessories. If you want to spruce up your personal jungle, the store offers free delivery in the entire Ghent region.
12 Culture: De Roma
After a lengthy renovation period, Antwerp’s historic De Roma theatre has been flourishing. But with its financing being dependent on its earnings by 85%, it’s hard to pay all the fixed costs. The De Roma team: “We have been debt-free for three years. That positive dynamic translates into fantastic programming and countless projects: we took the gamble to open a restaurant for our audience. We raised money for an elevator to be installed this year, renewed our decrepit foyers and improved fire safety. And then suddenly there was a black beast at the door: the coronavirus. It is the unpleasant surprise that nobody saw. It silences us. It presents us with a new, sky-high challenge. A challenge that, together with you, we must and will overcome.” Have a look over here how you can help with a donation through the King Baudouin Foundation, by buying tickets for later in the year, or by purchasing a gift voucher.
13 Eco-fashion: F.A.A.M
Vegan sneakers, stylish bathing suits made from recycled plastic bottles – these are the kind of products you’ll find at Antwerp eco store F.A.A.M. The physical store is closed, but all their carefully chosen sustainable and environment-friendly products are available here.
14 Drinks: Brussels Beer Project Survival Pack
Brussels Beer Project, a young micro-brewery, helps you get through quarantine with its survival pack. You can not only order their own beers, but also those of other fellow breweries, as well as donate to the local Saint Pierre hospital. Make your personal custom pack, support your local independent breweries and health professionals, and stay hydrated. Cheers!
15 Food: Chez Wawa
In the mood for a giant Cali-Mex burrito or authentic tacos? CHEZWawa comes to the rescue, remaining open for self pick-up as well as delivery all over Brussels. The Châtelain branch is open Tuesdays through Saturdays 11h45-14h30 and Tuesdays through Sundays 17h30-21h00.