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Coronavirus: Usually-busy Saskatoon avenue prepares for reopening

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: Broadway Avenue will have more businesses opening soon'
Coronavirus: Broadway Avenue will have more businesses opening soon
WATCH: Businesses on Broadway Avenue have been finding ways to cope with being temporarily closed due to COVID-19. – May 3, 2020

Saskatoon’s Broadway Avenue is known for its range of businesses and foot traffic, especially when the nice weather rolls in, before coronavirus safety measures came into effect at least.

Events such as the Fringe Festival bring thousands of people to one of Saskatoon’s busiest streets for shopping, dining out or a gourmet coffee linking those events to Broadway’s bottom lime.

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Executive and artistic director of the Broadway Theatre Kirby Wirchenko knows that bottom line well, given that the theatre has been on the street since 1846.

“When they choose to say, come to Saskatoon for the weekend. Again, (that’s) getting a hotel room, taking in the Shakespeare (on the Saskatchewan), doing some shopping, maybe going for some groceries on the way out of town,” he added.

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The theatre is one of western Canada’s busiest event centres.

In many cases business owners have had to get creative to find ways to keep operations going since the pandemic began, such as online services or personal delivery orders.

“We made it a point early on and started to offer the takeaway services and free delivery services right away,” said Calories Restaurant owner and chef Taszia Thakur.

“That helped us out. We got on the bandwagon early.”

Thakur says the two owners have taken on the role of delivering orders themselves up to two times a day.

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For smaller retail stores on the strip, COVID-19 has presented a lot of challenges that will remain even when they are allowed to reopen — such as keeping up with social distancing rules for shoppers.

Clothing store Prairie Proud has been on the block for roughly a year. Its owner feels it will be a case-by-case situation for each store.

“Ultimately retail stores are going to have different protocols when it comes to what is happening in their respective stores,” said Cole Thorpe.

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He says the store’s online section has received lots of business during the pandemic from people across the prairie provinces.

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It will take a while to get back to any resemblance of a new normal. As businesses and their customers cope with adjusting to the new way of life — something that won’t happen overnight.

“I think this will easily be a 12 to 18-month cycle before we maybe approach where we were at the start of it,” Wirchenko added.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes to two years.”

Some retail locations will be allowed to reopen on May 19 as part of the provinces reopening of the economy. Others will have to take the wait and see approach into the summer. Many of the restaurants and the Theatre fall into phase 3 or 4 of the plan.

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An empty Broadway Avenue during the COVID-19 pandemic. Brady Ratzlaff/ Global News
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The Saskatoon Fringe Festival features over 200 shows and saw 75,000 attendees. Brice Perkins / Global News
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An event being held in the Broadway Theatre. Kirby Wirchenko/ Supplied
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A busy Calories Restaurant. Taszia Thakur/ Supplied
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A Prairie Proud clothing item for sale online. One of the retail stores that would be allowed to reopen on May 19. Cole Thorpe/ Supplied
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