A look at how Lethbridge retail stores are faring 1 week after Phase 1 relaunch: ‘We’re very busy’

Click to play video 'Businesses see varying success one week after Alberta’s Phase 1 relaunch' Businesses see varying success one week after Alberta’s Phase 1 relaunch
WATCH ABOVE: The Alberta government’s decision to slowly relaunch the economy on May 14 allowed a variety of businesses to reopen their doors in some parts of the province. As Eloise Therien reports, some retailers in Lethbridge have been luckier than others.

On May 14, most of Alberta began the first of three phases to gradually reopen the economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The exceptions were Calgary and Brooks and Calgary.

“We’re very busy,” said Jeremy Duchan, the owner of Gentlemen Three Menswear in Lethbridge. 

“One of the things that was great with the May 14 restrictions, was that gatherings were allowed to be a little bit larger in size,” he said, referring to the Government of Alberta lifting restrictions in order to allow groups of up to 50 people in outdoor settings while maintaining proper social distancing.

“So that allowed people to re-evaluate their wedding plans,” said Duchan.

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Some high schools and post-secondary institutions have decided to host virtual graduation ceremonies, giving graduates a reason to dress up.

“High school grads [and their parents] are realizing… ‘We’re still going to allow him to get a suit and dress him up for grad because he deserves to have that opportunity too,'” Duchan said.

Across the street, it’s a different story. The managers of Doug’s Sports, a locally-owned sporting goods company in Lethbridge, said although he is glad they are able to be open, business isn’t as usual.

“March, April, May and part of June are our Christmas months,” said co-manager JD Clark. “That’s when all the sports are either beginning or ending… so you can imagine our heartache.”

Major and minor sporting events across the world have come to a standstill, taking away the store’s main revenue: team sports gear.

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However, the store has been selling some other items to stay in business, such as basketballs, baseball gloves and balls, footballs and soccer balls.

“Yesterday was the best day we’ve had since this whole thing began,” said co-manager Jonathan Bikman, attributing the sales to the warmer weather and the increasing desire of Lethbridge residents to get outside and stay active.

For Big John’s Books, sales also haven’t been up to par, but they’re just glad to see new and familiar faces again, with owner John Pyska saying his favourite part is “definitely the people.”

“It’s nice being able to put books out, and [that people] actually come and buy them again,” he said.

A set date for Phase 2 has not been determined. Details on each phase and what types of businesses will be reopening can be found here.