Supporting local businesses more important than ever

Storefront sign saying, "Yes, we're open"

 

TIM MOSSHOLDER / UNSPLASH PHOTOGRAPHY

 

The Government of Ontario announced that only essential services will remain open during the COVID-19 self-isolation, forcing most local businesses to close on March 24.

Smaller businesses are taking a heavy hit right now because they have a limited cash flow but will still have to pay bills. 

Melissa Marin owned a hair salon in downtown Brantford for nine years. She’s never seen anything like this before, forcing her salon to shut down. 

“Having to lay off my whole entire staff, it breaks my heart, because my staff is like my family, I know what they’re going through,” said Marin. 

 Marin is trying to make online sales to make profit.

“I worked through the last big recession and it felt like our industry bounced back quite a bit, because people still want to look good,” she said.

Many business owners, including Marin aren’t sure on what’s going to happen next, because there’s no direct plan that the government has announced. 

According to Adam Silverman, a student from Western University’s Ivey Business School, the next steps for smaller businesses is to figure out the ways to make money and sustain their customers. The biggest problem is that nobody knows how long self-isolation will last. 

“In my institution they’re saying it could be a recession, but it could be a depression,” said Silverman, “it could get as bad as that.”  

Almost two million Canadians were laid off due to COVID-19 and more than half will lose their jobs by the end of March, according to the data report by Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Two in five workers making minimum wage are at risk of immediate job loss.

The unemployment rate grew from 5.9 to 13.5 per cent from February to March in Canada. In a press conference on March 20, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that nearly one million Canadians applied for jobless claims.

Graph by Liz Shiro

 

The Government of Canada is providing small businesses with wage subsidies for up to three months with a maximum subsidy of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer.

Silverman says that larger businesses or those who were fundamentally strong before will make it through the recession. 

“Support local businesses, these are the people that are struggling the most,” he said.

Marin is concerned about other local businesses. 

“Everybody needs to support local, try to support any of the little stores that you usually go to, the big businesses like Walmart and big grocery stores, they will make it,” she said.

“It’s these little guys, we need help, a lot of our local businesses are offering deals, and myself; I’m offering deals with 20 per cent cashback, I’m offering free delivery on hair products if anybody’s out.”

Downtown Brantford is a place where you can find a variety of local businesses including, Bathtub Bakery, Alt Boutique, Crazy Bills, Lonnie’s and more. Modo Yoga Studio in Downtown Brantford is more than just a yoga studio, it’s a place for people to enjoy time together, meditate and become healthier through the practices of yoga.

Markus Schneider, owner of the studio said, “when the studio closed, we tried to bring the practices online as much as possible, yoga practice and meditation can be done wherever, but people enjoy doing it in a community in contact with other people, because there are a lot of distraction from day to day life.”

For Schneider, shifting online has been a new experience, people could donate anything to support the studio and join their online classes on their Facebook and Instagram page.

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