January 2, 2018 12:39 pm
Updated: January 4, 2018 4:08 pm

Regina businesses feeling hopeful about 2018

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As a new year begins, many businesses are looking back at 2017.

Brad Kreutzer, co-owner of Paper Umbrella, says local businesses are clawing their way back after years of “tough economic times.”

“It’s a challenging time for people out there. You can see the light at the end of the tunnel, though,” Kreutzer said.

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Kreutzer 12 years ago opened up shop in the Cathedral Area in Regina’s West End. He and his wife, Theresa Kutarna, saw a need for stationary products in the city and thought, “Why not?” Kreutzer says that every year since, Paper Umbrella has seen incremental growth in sales, and 2017 was no different.

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“There are no leaps and bounds, I don’t think, in this business too often, but we’re holding our own,” he said.

Kreutzer and Kutarna recently expanded into the store next door. The extra space allows for a broader stationary line as well as new products, such as purses and jewelry. Kreutzer also says more events, such as letter-writing nights, are now possible.

“It’s definitely exciting to see ourselves grow,” Kreutzer said with a smile, adding customers have also been excited about the expansion.

But Paper Umbrella isn’t the only shop thriving in the neighbourhood.

Uforia Muse, another booming Cathedral business, launched an online store in September. After years of plateauing sales, co-owner Carleen Rozon says things are now picking up again.

“People want to shop online. Even people in Regina want to shop online and they pick it up here in the store,” Rozon said. “They just want the convenience.”

John Hopkins, CEO of Regina and District Chamber of Commerce, says an online presence helps boost local business. But that’s only part of the equation.

“We’ve seen quite a turnaround in the ag sector, and it continues to perform well,” Hopkins said. “And we’ll hopefully see something in the oil and gas sector.”

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“All of that translates into more sales in Regina,” Hopkins said, adding that Regina is the retail hub of southern Saskatchewan.

Hopkins says even in a growing economy, it’s impossible for small businesses to compete with big box stores.

But rather than trying to compete with retail giants, such as Loblaws and Walmart, Kreutzer has developed his own recipe for success: unique products combined with old-fashioned customer service.

“Make sure that you care for the customer because that’s one of the most important parts of any industry,” Kreutzer said. “If you forget about that, you’re not going to do very well.”

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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