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Winnipeg businesses noticing shift toward buying local in light of pandemic restrictions

Winnipeggers eyeing home renos, motor sports, as socially distanced winter approaches
WATCH: With fewer opportunities to travel somewhere warm for the winter, people in the Winnipeg area are looking for other ways to keep busy. Global's Marek Tkach reports.

As Manitobans hunkered down during a summer of social distancing and travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many turned to home improvements, local travel or off-road toys, and those in the industries are hopeful those trends continue.

“We were taken aback a little bit at how busy it has been,” said Jim Rutledge, general manager of Nisby Home Renovations Ltd., reflecting on business this summer.

Nisby Home Renovations Ltd. on Ferry Road.
Nisby Home Renovations Ltd. on Ferry Road. Marek Tkach / Global News

“We weren’t really expecting it. It just seems people are more involved in their home renovations and spending money on their home rather than going on trips.”

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Rutledge says a fair portion of his business comes from referrals, and not only has he received more of those throughout the summer, but people are now asking about winter work.

Read more: Canadian lumber shortage puts strain on building industry

“It’s pride of ownership,” Rutledge said.

“People subconsciously enjoy spending money, and if they can’t spend it on a trip or vacation, they feel that they should maybe spend it on the house. It’s protecting their investments.”

There have been some issues with price volatility with the products Rutledge sources, he says, and occasionally finding tradespeople to put it all together, but overall his business has fared well.

Meanwhile, just outside Winnipeg at Enns Brothers in Oak Bluff, sales of motor sports equipment have been largely on par with previous years, according to sales manager Derek Ennis, but customers are eagerly anticipating winter.

“We are noticing that it’s starting a little bit earlier as people are making sure they can get a recreational vehicle product and have something to do this winter and not miss out,” said Enns.

Derek Ennis, the Sales Manager at Enns Brothers Winnipeg.
Derek Ennis, the Sales Manager at Enns Brothers Winnipeg. Marek Tkach / Global News

With September reaching the midway mark, Ennis told Global News he’s beginning to notice a pattern when comes to what customers are asking for.

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“Hey, I haven’t ridden for a few years, and we’re planning on being home this winter so we want to make sure that we’re able to get something and not miss out for this winter so what you have, what can we get going on,” Ennis said.

Read more: Winnipeg airport projects $45-million deficit this year, calls for government help

Local tourism has also seen a boost lately. Travel Manitoba has previously told Global News that communities such as Clear Lake, the Whiteshell and Hecla Island have anecdotally said numbers this summer are among their best on record.

— With files from Sam Thompson.

Open House: Home renovations during a pandemic
Open House: Home renovations during a pandemic