Advertisement

Coronavirus pandemic claims Okanagan business; Summerland arts store permanently closes its doors

“It was always a dream to have my own store,” Summerland business owner shuts down store permanently due to pandemic and not being able pay rent

It’s a reality that’s hard to accept for Tammy Jackson.

After operating her arts store in Summerland for nearly six years, the business owner has been forced to shut down operations for good.

“It was all very surreal,” Jackson told Global News. “I still wake up some nights and just think, ‘It’s all a dream.’ It’s just been a shock.”

On Thursday, Jackson took down the sign of what was Tammy’s Brush 2 Canvas store on Main Street.

READ MORE: Commercial landlords offer rent deferrals as coronavirus shutters stores

“Today is my last day in the store and we are doing the final clean-ups,” she said.

With no income coming in since mid-March, Jackson can no longer afford to pay her rent.

Story continues below advertisement

“I had about 100 to 150 students come through here for classes, plus my walk-in traffic for the retail,” she said.

“I did pay April’s rent, but that’s all I could afford.”

Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau announces rent relief for small businesses during pandemic
Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau announces rent relief for small businesses during pandemic

The decision to close, she said, wasn’t easy.

“It’s going to be tough. This was my baby,” said an emotional Jackson.

“It was always a dream to have my own store, so that I am grateful for and I got that off my bucket list.”

Coronavirus outbreak: Premier Horgan unveils plans for re-opening B.C. next week
Coronavirus outbreak: Premier Horgan unveils plans for re-opening B.C. next week

The arts store is believed to be the first in the South Okanagan community to close its doors permanently due to the pandemic — and there are fears it won’t be the last.

Story continues below advertisement

“There are other businesses that have laid off staff, they don’t know how long they can continue,” said Ron Kubek, president of the Summerland Chamber of Commerce.

“It’s, I think, just the first one of many that are going to happen not only in our community, but in communities across Canada.”

The grim outlook has Kubek deeply concerned, adding losing businesses will ruin the town’s character.

“It really affects the town, you know,” he said. “Every business is important. To me, every business is essential, to the person who owns it, to the landlord, to the workers.”

Economic impact of COVID-19 and financial forecast for B.C.
Economic impact of COVID-19 and financial forecast for B.C.

Kubek continued, saying “we end up then with more change. We have more people shopping — instead of just going ‘Oh, I’m just going to go down to the art gallery to pick up art supplies,’ well, now they order from Amazon.”

Story continues below advertisement

Last week, the federal government announced a rent relief plan to help business owners survive this tough time.

The plan, however, requires landlords to cover 25 per cent of their tenant’s rent.

Whether that was even considered in the Summerland case is unknown, because calls by Global News to Jackson’s landlord were not returned by the time of publication.

Coronavirus outbreak: U.S. business leaders express concerns as states reopen
Coronavirus outbreak: U.S. business leaders express concerns as states reopen

Jackson said when she broke the news to her landlord about not being able to afford rent, there was no mention of any help, leaving her disappointed.

Jackson’s unfortunate circumstances have prompted the president of the local chamber of commerce to issue advice to other business owners heading in the same direction.

“If you are thinking about closing down, contact us, let us figure out how we can help out,” Kubek said. “Whether it’s talking to landlords, figuring out ways of how they can do more sales online.”

Story continues below advertisement

As for Jackson, she will now try the online route, and is turning to technology to continue her passion for arts and business.