Edmonton-area businesses band together amid COVID-19 pandemic

Click to play video: 'Edmonton-area businesses band together amid COVID-19 pandemic'
Edmonton-area businesses band together amid COVID-19 pandemic
WATCH ABOVE: A makeshift conglomerate of Edmonton area businesses in the building and design community is working together to be stronger during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nicole Stillger has more – May 24, 2020

A collective of Edmonton-area businesses is banding together amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Holly Carmichael owns TruWood Artisans in Stony Plain. Like many business owners, she’s had her share of concerns.

“We saw the phones stop ringing, we saw all quotes stop and it was just really terrifying,” Carmichael said.

Scared for the future of her woodworking business of more than 15 years, she reached out to others in the building and design community with an Instagram post, encouraging them to come together.

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“We’re not going to get through it by ourselves,” she said Sunday.

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“Maybe we just need to be stronger and get back to doing what we do, which is communicating really well with each other.”

In the social media call to action, she referenced the strength of bison.

“In a storm, cows will huddle together and cowardly run away from the storm, and the bison are in the same storm, and they huddle together and choose to face the storm,” Carmichael explained.

The response to her post is something she didn’t expect.

“Everybody responded saying, ‘I want to be a buffalo. Go team bison,'” she said.

“That’s what we called ourselves — the Storm Bison — because the COVID-19 pandemic really is the storm.”

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Arin Brubaker is one of the group’s members. She’s also the co-owner of Garry Builders.

“I thought it was such a great sentiment,” Brubaker said.

“Right away, I told [Holly] I wanted to be part of a group of tradespeople supporting each other through this.”

The group recently launched a website — a one-stop shop of 26 peer-reviewed businesses people can pick from.

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“Collectively, let’s do this because there’s strength in numbers just like the bison,” Carmichael said. “All of a sudden we realized phones were starting to ring.”

Brubaker said being part of the Storm Bison has lifted her spirits and she also appreciates the camaraderie.

“The example we can set for other industries to show them you can come together and learn from each other,” Brubaker said.

Carmichael ultimately never thought her idea would evolve the way it has.

“I started out just wanting people to come together to feel less fear,” she said.

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She hopes the Storm Bison could one day help other groups, too.

“Less fortunate people — disaster relief we could be involved in — we could be hired as individuals or the whole collective. It’s actually quite endless,” she explained.

Brubaker has her own dream for what their group could accomplish.

“I’d love to do a house where each of the individuals [in] our group can contribute in some way,” she mused.

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