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Some struggling Edmonton businesses expand online

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It's no secret many Edmonton businesses are bearing the financial brunt of this pandemic, but in an effort to stay afloat more owners are taking their products online. Chris Chacon has more. – Dec 2, 2020

It’s no secret that many Edmonton businesses are bearing the financial brunt of this pandemic, but in an effort to stay afloat more owners are taking their products online.

Ever since Joseph Hayek’s hair salon, Zou Zou Hair, opened in 2014, he has depended on the flow of students coming in from the University of Alberta but it hasn’t been the same this year.

“People aren’t walking in here as much, people are too scared to get their hair done, ” Hayek said.

Read more: Edmonton-area restaurant struggles amid ever-changing pandemic restrictions

Amid less foot traffic, Hayak said he’s noticed more and more customers showing interest in buying hair products from his store.

“Everybody loves to buy things online, so I thought might as well start.”

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Within two months, Hayek had his online store up and running, the move has come with a significant learning curve and a lot more work.

“When I’m not working when I’m cutting hair, I’m working on my online store.”

Read more: Some Edmonton retailers welcome Alberta’s new COVID-19 restrictions

Software developer Lee Humeniuk has been helping small businesses get started online, and said this is something more owners should be considering.

“With people not being able to go out shopping as much and just doing their online shopping, it seems like it’s much more of a necessity and so it should be a priority for local businesses to put some time and effort towards this,” Humeniuk said.

But not all businesses are able willing to make that pivot.

For more than 60 years, Eddie Men’s Wear has been operating in Edmonton and while creating an online store may be appealing, manager Jennifer Seutter said it’s not so cut and dry.

“People come for the customer service, so that’s a hard thing to do online.”

“How do you get that right when you’re dealing with a computer and you’ve taken that personality out of it? That’s really a big part of who we are.

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“For us to be online, that back and forth kind of scares us, of how much packaging, shipping all that kind of stuff that’s added, but how does that garment end up at the end of the day,” Seutter said.

The store has been offering personal appointments and curbside pick-up. Good additions but to make a go of it in this market Humeniuk emphasizes stores need to do “everything” they can.

“Your marketing campaign can only go so far, if you’re posting adds to come into the store things like that, I would say in this day and age you want to make your product as accessible as possible,” Humeniuk said.

Seutter said if the pandemic continues or worsens, the store will most likely go online but with a more limited approach.