EDMONTON — Small business confidence may be at an all-time low in Alberta but some local entrepreneurs catering to niche markets are seeing tremendous growth.
“About nine per cent of small businesses in Alberta are looking to add on full-time staff within the next three months,” said Amber Ruddy, a spokesperson with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.
“There are a number of businesses that do have a bit of an uptick, even though the overall economy looks like it’s experiencing a lot of trouble.”
And that’s especially true for Rob Davy. His indoor paintball business was booming so he recently expanded by adding laser tag. He hired six new employees.
“When we put out the word (out) and put up the ads that we were opening the laser tag facility, we were inundated with resumes,” said the owner of Laser City/ Edmonton Paintball.
“We were able to choose the pick of the crop.”
That’s not the only business booming in Alberta right now. It seems even cash-strapped Albertans still need a caffeine boost. The wholesale business at Transcend Coffee is up 60 per cent over the last six months.
“It’s said coffee is one of those affordable luxuries, so when you’re cutting back with certain things, coffee isn’t one,” said Poul Marc, the company’s founder.
Marc said he has increased his staff by 10 per cent. The entrepreneur is now hoping the low Canadian dollar will help him expand his business into the U.S.
“It’s stimulating us to want to move and expand both our online business and our wholesale business into the United States so we can capture U.S. dollars,” he said.
“With the low price of the Canadian dollar right now, it is very attractive to export right now. And in some cases it might be attractive for tourism,” Ruddy added.
The prospect of becoming your own boss is growing more attractive during the economic downturn. The number of self-employed Albertans jumped last month.
“We’re experiencing many people getting laid off in the oil and gas sector but they might be exploring some of the options they’ve always wanted to pursue, out of interest or necessity,” Ruddy said.
Self-employed Rebecca Grant of Violet Chocolate Company said her Christmas orders doubled this year and Valentine’s Day pre-orders are already piling up.
“I think because it (chocolate) is a niche product and the economy isn’t as great right now; people are turning local and putting money in to where they know it’s going to be spent as opposed to a big box store,” said Grant.
With business booming, she’s looking to expand as well – a silver lining in a tough financial climate.
“We’re looking to probably bring someone on for production in the next little bit and our space is starting to feel a little bit small with the new production demands,” said Grant.
If you’re looking to start your own business head to MYSTARTUP.CA for advice on how to get started.
with files from Sarah Kraus
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