After closing her two beloved stores last year, Kristina Egyed avoided passing her empty shop window in East Vancouver.
I was terribly struck by the heart, said the owner of LaLas.
LaLas was really a part of me.
Business Nanaimo for a long time subject to pandemic and online shopping
An established one LaLas in 1996. The concept was a success until COVID-19. Egyed turned to online sales creating cash flow but no revenue before admitting that the pandemic did not support its gift shop business strategy.
LaLas was built on enhanced entertainment and casual socializing inside a brick-and-mortar store, Egyed told Global News.
And that model I knew would break down for at least three years, if not longer.
It was a gamble that she was not willing to take with her personal wealth.
Egyed moved as much inventory as it could in the summer of 2020 before closing its locations in Deep Cove and Commercial Drive at a time when it should have celebrated nearly 25 years in business.
I realized that leaving those communities would leave a hole in those communities, and that was hard for me, Egyed recalls.
‘Very exciting’: Nanaimo, BC holiday shop closes its doors, citing the impact of COVID-19
A business owner in Nanaimo faced the same dilemma.
Were they victims of this, said Pattie Walker as she prepared for her final Halloween at her famous Nanaimo store.
The pandemic was the latest push for Patties Party Palace.
After nearly 23 years of year-round costume sales, Walker will close on November 20 with one last holiday.
They were completely event-based, so it was very detrimental for the business to lose all of our events, she told Global News on October 29th.
Websites like Amazon were cutting sales when COVID-19 spurred even more online shoppers and postponed the festivities.
New survey reveals COVID-19 costs for BC businesses
As a small independent, you can not compete, Walker said.
At least 84 street-level businesses have closed in downtown Vancouver since the beginning of 2020, according to DVBIA Downtown State Report May 2021.
Forty-five percent of them were independent shops or restaurants.
Having to rest everyone is heartbreaking, said business owner Brendan Ladner.
It’s a really, really hard thing to do.
In October, Ladner was forced to let 17 employees leave when he closed his trio of fast-food restaurants in downtown Vancouver.
It’s all we have built and worked on so much and done so much, he told Global News.
Ladner opened the first TASTE in 2013 – on West Pender Street in the city financial district.
His healthy take on fast food served locally sourced products in compostable packaging and quickly became one of the fans ’favorites.
Two other places followed on Granville and Howe streets.
It took a pandemic to bring us down. You know, you’re growing and then comes the pandemic, Ladner added.
He was optimistic that things would change until last September sales were slower than in 2020.
The business community in BC is wary of gaps in new financial support for COVID-19
People do not return to work in offices and they may not return for a very long time, said Ladner, who transferred to Whistler to avoid the collapse of his SMAK dream.
When you get rid of all the customers, you are left with a business model that really does not work anymore.
With more losses expected, Egyed said supporting local and independent BC businesses is now more important than ever.
This will be a key season for those who have had difficulties over the past 18 months, she told Global News.
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