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Lethbridge business owners cope with anxiety, emotional impacts of COVID-19

Click to play video: 'Lethbridge business owners cope with emotional impacts of COVID-19' Lethbridge business owners cope with emotional impacts of COVID-19
WATCH: The co-owners of Lethbridge’s Mocha Cabana and Mocha Local say they are taking things one day at a time during the COVID-19 crisis as one thriving aspect of their service shoulders the burden of supporting two businesses. As Danica Ferris reports, the city’s Economic Recovery Task Force is hoping to provide emotional supports. – Apr 28, 2020

The co-owners of Lethbridge’s Mocha Cabana shut the doors to their restaurant on March 18 after a stressful week of uncertainty.

“Never in my life have I been more anxious than I’ve been since March 13,” said Angel Harper, one of the owners of both Mocha Cabana and Mocha Local.

“Literally the 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th [we were] sitting in the office crying, ‘How are we going to support two businesses and all these people?'” she said.
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Harper said the stress hasn’t stopped over the last six weeks, but a partial answer to their prayers came in the form of new-found demand for their second business, Mocha Local.

The meal kit and farmers market delivery service has exploded in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“On March 19 we sold more than we have in our best week ever, in one day of sales,” said Harper.

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“It was like all of a sudden the taps came on.”

Mocha Local delivers locally-sourced, artisan products to southern Alberta, and recently added Medicine Hat to its route.

The popularity of the grocery delivery service has resulted in numbers more than tripling for Mocha Local, giving the owners some relief during a tough time.

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Harper said between Mocha Local sales and the wage subsidy available to businesses, they have managed to keep both businesses afloat for now, including reopening the restaurant for takeout and hiring back a handful of the 30 staff members laid off last month.

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“We’re just making it,” she said. “There’s bills that are unpaid and we’re just going to [keep] putting one foot forward in front of the next, and say, ‘Hope I can pay that one tomorrow.'”

Trevor Lewington — the CEO of Economic Development Lethbridge and one of the faces of the city’s Economic Recovery Task Force — said those overwhelming feelings of uncertainty and fear are a common thread among Lethbridge business owners right now.

In a presentation to city councillors on Monday, the task force expressed a desire to connect businesses with emotional supports.

“People tend to forget about that part — that we all are humans with feelings and emotions,” said Lewington.

“Business owners in particular, many of them have had to lay off staff, many of them have had to close businesses that they have put their blood, sweat and tears into.”

The task force is hoping to provide businesses with access to counselling services and the resources to connect with peers in similar situations.

Lewington said the group is also hosting online seminars to ensure businesses have all the tools and information they need to give them the best chance to survive.

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