Coronavirus: Edmonton businesses grapple with news that pandemic restrictions will last months

Click to play video: 'Small businesses faced with longer closure in Edmonton due to COVID-19'
Small businesses faced with longer closure in Edmonton due to COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic isn't expected to subside for at least a month, or even longer. Breanna Karstens-Smith speaks with Edmonton businesses now likely closed until the end of May. – Apr 8, 2020

It took years to make 124 Street in downtown Edmonton the vibrant walk it has become but since the COVID-19 pandemic began, businesses along the stretch and across the city have been forced to close.

The province put in restrictions to limit the spread of COVID-19 meaning hair salons, clothing stores and more are no longer allowed to be open, and restaurants can provide take out but no in-room dining.

On Tuesday night, during a televised address, Premier Jason Kenney announced the measures would likely be in place until the end of May.

“[It] took your breath away,” said Quilter’s Dream manager Craig St. Pierre said of the timeline.
Click to play video: 'Alberta Premier Jason Kenney releases province’s COVID-19 models during broadcast address'
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney releases province’s COVID-19 models during broadcast address

The store, typically busy with sewers comparing fabrics and threads, is now relying solely on phone and online orders.

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“It’s just very time consuming. Normally, someone could come in and pick out their own stuff and now… you’re texting them pictures of a blue and they’re like, ‘I don’t like that shade of blue,'” explained St. Pierre.

Across the street, Local 124 is seeing the same.

The skateboard shop has been on 124 Street for 14 years. Employee Sheldon Lauzon said they resisted going online.

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“We’ve prided ourselves on being a face-to-face skate shop instead of online but unfortunately, with the quarantine, we’ve shut our physical doors to the public and we are online now.”

Lauzon said the business is hoping parents get their kids into skateboarding since local playgrounds and other activities are closed. They’ve been posting product on their Instagram and taking questions over the phone.

“We’re hoping for the best. We really think that with the help of the community and parents helping keep their kids active through skateboarding, we can really get through this together, but mostly, the safety of our public is first and foremost,” said Lauzon.

Unlike restaurants, Quilter’s Dream and Local 124 can’t rely on apps like Skip the Dishes to deliver their product. They’ve been doing curbside pickups.

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Body Architects has been delivering their service in a different way too.

The local gym is closed but personal trainers are doing virtual training sessions with clients to keep them program running.

“We can’t control whether we’re going to open our doors and how quickly we as a community get through this but what we can control is, let’s get out there and show we have lots to offer from a distance,” said owner Ryan Ellis.

Body Architects also has an app and has been providing free videos online.

Ellis says he hopes people start turning to his gym as they become increasingly bored at home.

He is optimistic his neighbours will be able to make it through the pandemic too.

“124 Street is really a connected community,” said Ellis.

Adapting will be key to making sure that community continues to thrive even after the crisis has ended.

Sometimes, the world helps with that.

Quilter’s Dream sold one years’ worth of elastic in just two days to people using it for cloth masks.

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“The minute Dr. [Theresa] Tam said masks could help, the phone just exploded,” said St. Pierre. “Elastic is the new toilet paper.”

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