Lethbridge business owners ‘pivot’ towards COVID-19 sustainability

Click to play video: 'Lethbridge businesses pivot to new COVID model' Lethbridge businesses pivot to new COVID model
WATCH ABOVE: As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, businesses in Lethbridge are pivoting to more sustainable business models to maintain safety measures and keep their doors open. Emily Olsen reports – Jul 30, 2020

Gentlemen Three Menswear owner Jeremy Duchan says he has heard of many businesses shifting to different or more sustainable models such as curbside service or deliveries in order to weather the COVID-19 storm.

“Pivot. How are you going to pivot your business? It’s the buzzword of the day right now,” Duchan said.

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

But he says he isn’t going that route.

“We’ve chosen not to pivot. We’ve chosen to recognize what we do well and what we’ve done well since 1970,” Duchan said. “This is our 50th year of business. I think we’ve succeeded based on service. I think we’ve succeeded based on that human interaction and that personalized touch.”

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He says his business is still taking every precaution to ensure everyone’s safety.

“We have everything that everyone else has: sanitization stations, we try and stay on top of cleaning touch points and that type of thing.”

For professional fittings — which are inherently close-contact in nature — Duchan says pre-booked appointments, masks and careful navigation to avoid face-to-face contact helps immensely.

It has also provided new inspiration for services.

“That’s allowed us to create new programs such as delivering things to your door that we’ve never done in the past,” Duchan said, adding the store also offers “private appointments which allow people to come in and maybe shop at ease.”

Duchan says many Lethbridge businesses are focused on giving back to the community and strengthening community relationships.

“We’ve pledged a percentage of sales from the end of March, all of April and all of May to Woods Homes and Youth One,” he explained.

Read more: ‘Like a stab to the belly’: Lethbridge business survey reveals struggles during COVID-19

House of Hammm Consignment Boutique owner Cayleigh Hamilton says her pivot is to move, which brings her closer to other businesses.

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“The building I’m moving into– the Oliver Building– I’ve met the majority of business owners in there already and it’s almost like a family. They are extremely welcoming,” she said.

Hamilton has also made tweaks to her daily operation for COVID-19 safety.

“We made all of our drop-off appointments doorside and curbside, which worked really well,” she explained. “To drop your clothes off, it’s appointment-based anyway.”

Hamilton says being in the business of sustainability means she is always focused on making good things last.

Read more: Coronavirus: Lethbridge businesses mark Day 1 of Alberta’s economic relaunch

“I think, right now, used clothing, thrifted clothing, secondhand clothing is having its moment and I think that’s actually one of the other reasons we’ve been able to stay afloat right now,” she said.

Hamilton and Duchan both say the key for all community members, not just business owners, is supporting local and thinking more sustainably. 

They say the benefits of doing so could outlast the hardships brought on by COVID-19.

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