By Alleah Boisvert
The importance of shopping locally has increased for Edmontonians as COVID-19 continues.
While big-box stores have gotten lucky enough to break even and sometimes even profit off the pandemic, some smaller local businesses are struggling to keep up.
Since many people are only leaving their homes for the necessities after the recently announced restrictions, some local shops are experiencing a decrease in traffic. Fortunately, a few local businesses are easily adapting to the constant changes.
Andrew Cowan, owner of Northern Chicken, has been using take-out orders to keep his businesses going.
“It wasn’t too hard to pivot to a full take-out model. Our food travels well and is already good take-out,” he said.
Despite this, Cowan says that they miss the environment that makes them unique. A full take-out model misses out on the interactions had with guests enjoying locally brewed beers and music in Northern Chicken’s space.
Even without a dine-in option, the establishment had to shut down at the end of November due to staff members testing positive for COVID. All their staff had to isolate, but this experience prepared them for another lockdown.
“It’s like ripping off a band-aid. I would be okay shutting our doors and coming out on the other side ready to rock,” Cowan said.
He is thankful that Northern Chicken had lots of support from the community and other local vendors while they were closed for isolation.
“We’re lucky to have the guests we have. Matt and I have always made community a big part of what we do,” he said.
Cowan isn’t the only vendor finding resilience during hard times.
Tanjeryne Hoffman, local artist and one the owners of City & Soul Wellness Collective, started planning a business in February, as COVID began.
“Basically, we went into it knowing that we had to be adaptable. We have meetings once a week and we sit down and say, what if? And we throw our fears out on the table and then we give ourselves tangible solutions,” she said.
City & Soul was able to have their grand opening outside at the end of September. Now, they hold online classes and Hoffman sells her locally sourced products online. Because of their adaptability, she is confident they can make it through another lockdown.
“I go through a range of emotions every day. Some days, I feel like we should just shut everything down for a month and really enforce that so that we can just get on with our lives, and the government should help small businesses,” said Hoffman.
She also says that sustainability became even more prevalent as the pandemic hit.
“It’s forced us to be very innovative and think creatively. I think businesses need that,” she said.
Hoffman says that the easiest way to support local businesses right now, besides buying their products, is sharing them with others online who might be interested in spending money.
“We just have to use adversity as an opportunity for growth and radical transformation,” Hoffman said.