After only a matter of weeks since the page has been up-and-running, the Great Falls Take Down & Take Out Facebook group has grown nearly 20 times its original size.
Group founders, father and daughter Terry Hurley and Beth Branam, said they created the group as a way to help offset the hurt likely to be felt by small businesses hit by COVID-19 restrictions.
“I didn't want to see any businesses have to close or lay off all their employees so this is kinda how this came about to begin with,” Hurley said.
Hurley reached out to others for ideas on how to help the community via his own Facebook page with little success, but instead took Branam’s advice to start a Facebook group where members could promote local businesses. “When we set it up, there was instantly like 500 members...we thought, well, we’ll have to do something a little bit different because you can’t have that many people out at restaurants, you know that would be not safe,” Branam said.
Instead of gathering all of their members at one specific business in town, they highlighted eight to 10 businesses each week to increase community support and minimize social contact.
Since then, their membership has grown from 500 at the outset of their group’s creation to nearly 10,000. “It just continued to grow every week...it was awesome and it was surprising and kind of inspiring that something so small could make such a big impact for people,” Branam said.
Branam and Hurley hope to continue the group post-COVID-19.
“We know that it’ll kind of have to evolve as things open up and change, we're hoping to keep it around and kind of just alter it a little bit,” Branam said.
“Let’s keep this going even after this virus is gone...let’s keep these businesses thriving,” Hurley said.