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Alberta small business owners shut down amid ongoing COVID-19 pandemic

The number of Alberta businesses shutting down ‘very concerning’: business group
WATCH ABOVE: A growing number of Alberta businesses are closing their doors – or looking to close them -- permanently during the pandemic. Tomasia DaSilva has the startling numbers and the story of one business owner who just can’t take anymore.

A longtime Calgary business is the latest to shut its doors permanently amid mounting financial troubles.

Galleria Inglewood is a consignment shop for local, Albertan and Canadian artists to sell their work. In business for more than 40 years, it will shut down this September.

“I just can’t do this anymore. I just can’t do it,” owner Susan Copley said. “It’s too stressful. It’s too up in the air. It’s too many sleepless nights.”

Copley started out as an employee back in 1982 before buying the business in 2005. She’s ridden out many recessions and downturns, along with many other ups and downs.

But she told Global News this latest recession, along with the COVID-19 pandemic and a recent, devastating flood, have forced her hand.

“I devoted 39 years of my life,” Copley said. “It’s just really sad that it’s just going to go away.”

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A long-time Calgary business gets ready to close for good amid financial worries and the COVID-19 pandemic
A long-time Calgary business gets ready to close for good amid financial worries and the COVID-19 pandemic. Global News / Mike Gill

Read more: Calgary businesses brace for slowdown as pandemic fears intensify

Copley is one of a growing number of Alberta business owners shutting down across the province — or at least thinking about it.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) told Global News that Alberta’s numbers are very concerning.

“Our most recent results revealed that 19 per cent of Alberta small businesses are either actively considering winding down their business or bankruptcy,” said Annie Dormuth, the CFIB’s provincial affairs director for Alberta.

“That’s nearly one-in-five small businesses in Alberta.”

The national average is 14 per cent.

The CFIB said despite Alberta’s economic relaunch a few weeks ago, business just hasn’t been the same.

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“We really haven’t seen the numbers increase on the number of businesses fully open. It’s kind of maintained around that high 50 per cent mark,” Dormuth said.

“And we also haven’t seen a large increase in the number of businesses seeing their revenues returning to normal, or even their hiring levels returning to normal.”

The CFIB said a number of sectors have been particularly hard-hit, and it is calling for a number of what it terms “critical fixes” to several federal programs. Those include changes to financial loan and wage subsidy programs, as well as a fix for the rental relief program.

“We are hearing far too many small businesses are not able to access the the program, mainly because their landlord is refusing to participate in it,” Dormuth said.

The CFIB would prefer that eligible tenants be able to access the funds directly.

Read more: Some Calgary shops choose to not fully open their doors despite COVID-19 restrictions being lifted

All of those asks are too, little too late for Galleria Inglewood, as well as the artists that rely on the business.

“It’s going to be gutwrenching I think for a lot of artists,” potter and part-time employee Marilyn Suttles said. “I don’t think this is replaceable. There won’t be anything like this.”

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A consignment shop for artists gets ready to close for good amid financial worries and the COVID-19 pandemic
A consignment shop for artists gets ready to close for good amid financial worries and the COVID-19 pandemic. Global News / Mike Gill

Copley is emotional about the loss to the community as well. As for her plans, she’s been doing crafts herself and may take that business online.

Still, she told Global News she’s worried about the other business owners out there.

“I have no idea what the economy is going to look like in Alberta,” she said. “It’s going to be something that is a whole new world. And I don’t know if it’s going to be a good one.”