Businesses along 1st Avenue struggling due to full road closure

Click to play video: 'First Avenue businesses face possible closure' First Avenue businesses face possible closure
Some businesses along First Avenue in Vancouver, part of which is closed for gas line repairs, say they might have to close because of a lack of business. Nadia Stewart reports – Jul 6, 2018

It’s only been a few days since a full closure went into effect along a stretch of 1st Avenue as Fortis BC upgrades its gas line.

But on Friday, businesses are already saying they might have to close their doors due to the reduced traffic and business.

At least one business says traffic has been down by about 50 per cent every day this week. And if that keeps up, it will no doubt affect their bottom line.

At Cassia Bakery, business has definitely slowed down.

“Usually we have 50, 60 customers per day and yesterday, just four,” Monica Dearantes, Cassia Bake Shop manager told Global News. “Usually we bake all day because we need to keep all products fresh, and now I just bake a few products in the morning. That’s it.”

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Next door at Red Burrito, they too are dealing with a drop in foot traffic.

“Many people used to come, regular customers, and park in the parking lot in the back, but yeah they cannot do that anymore,” said Jesus Maciel from Red Burrito. “I believe that’s why we are having at least 50 per cent down in the sales.”

READ MORE: East Van residents say ‘rat runners’ clogging side streets to dodge 1st Ave closure

Both businesses are raising concerns about the impact this could have on their bottom line, especially since it’s still early days in this summer-long closure.

East 1st Avenue will remain closed from Clark Drive to Nanaimo Street until Aug. 1.

That means bad news for small businesses who have resorted to cutting staff hours to make up for the shortfall.

“You have to spend a lot of money in making this business keep going,” said Maciel. “Also, the prices keep the same, sometimes even higher. So for this very first week, not too much, but I’m expecting that it’s going to be a lot of damage because of that in the next week.”

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READ MORE: 11 blocks of East 1st Ave. will be closed in both directions for 10 weeks this summer

Fortis BC did not respond to a request for an interview on Friday. In the past, Fortis has said they were working to support businesses along the affected route.

But Dearantes says her bakery will need a lot of help if they’re going to survive this summer.

“I’m a little bit worried about my job because I work here full time and I don’t know if the business doing like this, they [could] close the store until they finish the construction.”

Cassia Bake Shop says they’ll be making a decision next week about whether or not to close for the summer.

Red Burrito is hoping it doesn’t come to that but they know business will be tight until the construction is over.

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