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Calgary sees a trend of new, small businesses popping up post-pandemic

Click to play video: 'Business boom? Calgary sees a number of new businesses pop up' Business boom? Calgary sees a number of new businesses pop up
WATCH: A number of new businesses have set up shop in Calgary in the past few weeks. Tomasia DaSilva explains what’s behind the trend and the challenges ahead.

Calgary is seeing a positive trend post-pandemic: a number of new businesses opening up.

Sensei Bar officially opened its doors at the end of June, after planning since May of 2020.

“It was tough, it was definitely tough,” owner Karan Seth told Global News. “With what was happening in the world, we just had to pause and put some delays in to try and time it appropriately.”

Sensei Bar is part of a growing trend of new businesses opening in Calgary. Global Calgary

Seth said although the time is now right, opening a new business has come with some challenges — specifically financial.

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“As a new business, you’re not open to subsidies, you’re not open to some of the other government programs.”

Read more: COVID-19: Businesses, residents react to Alberta inching closer to Stage 3 of reopening plan

It’s a problem the Canadian Federation of Independent Business has been fighting for months.

“New businesses have again been locked out of the federal support programs,” CFIB Alberta provincial affairs director Annie Dormuth said. “The wage subsidy, the rental relief subsidy.”

Dormuth added that unfortunately, as Alberta reopened its economy, many of the provincial support programs ended as well.

“So unfortunately for these (businesses) — ones that are now opening in 2021 — they will be having to go it alone.”

The CFIB said the perception of the number of “new” small businesses opening up may also be deceiving.

“When you look at them a little bit closer, actually these businesses were looking to open in 2020 but kind of delayed their opening until they felt they were in a better position to welcome customers,” Dormouth said.

Click to play video: 'New restaurants popping up in Calgary' New restaurants popping up in Calgary
New restaurants popping up in Calgary

Regardless of the timing, Calgary’s mayor is encouraged by the openings.

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“It has been a really rough time for many local businesses,” Naheed Nenshi said. “I’m thrilled that local entrepreneurs are taking some risks and investing in Calgary.”

Read more: Calgary city council approves $15.9M to support businesses, including pubs and gyms

Seth told Global News that so far, Sensei has welcomed a lot of customers, and its opening has been very successful.

And while the restaurant veteran knows challenges are ahead, he’s confident that once Calgarians get a taste of the new reality, they will not go back.

“I think people are just excited to be out and have fun and just get back to normal.”

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