Winnipeg retailers, restaurants set for another challenging holiday season

Businesses are preparing for another holiday season under the pandemic.
Businesses are preparing for another holiday season under the pandemic. Global News / File

It’s another make-or-break holiday season for Winnipeg retailers during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and some are pivoting to new strategies that have proven successful.

Kari England of Exchange District staple, Toad Hall Toys, says initiatives that her store first put in place due to the pandemic, like $5 delivery and curbside pickup, will be sticking around.

Her store’s size and its 45-year history has helped in avoiding supply chain challenges so far, she said. But she recognizes not every business is as fortunate.

“I have lots of relationships in the industry that I’ve built up over the years, so I can call on a number of people and say, ‘this is where I’m a little bit short. How can you help me here?’

“So, longevity, and good interpersonal relationships with other companies, I think have put us in a really great place.”

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England says she’s seeing a lot of 2020 first-time customers, who bought online, come in to check out the store.

“I’m hearing a lot of people walking into the store saying, ‘We found you online last year. We wanted to come into the store and see what it’s really like inside’.”


Local restaurants are being affected by supply chain challenges, and also a lack of holiday bookings, according to a Winnipeg restaurateur.

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Kristjan Kristjansson of Brazen Hall Kitchen told 680 CJOB it’s nearly impossible to get enough fresh product right now — especially when it comes to seafood.

“To get a fresh load of shrimp or lobster or fresh fish — that’s becoming a real challenge for a lot of restaurants,” he said.

“The ones that are going to be hurt the most, are the ones that have built their businesses around that beautiful, fresh model.”

Kristjansson said he’s not sure what long-term strategies can be put in place to ensure this issue doesn’t get out-of-control.

Meanwhile, Brazen Hall is one of the Winnipeg eateries making holiday shopping a little easier — with some of the proceeds going to charity.

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The Pembina Highway restaurant, East India Company, Silver Heights Restaurant, and Pasquale’s are offering a gift-card promotion where 20 per cent of sales from the cards go to mental health resources at Victoria General Hospital.

Charities are struggling due to the pandemic, and his restaurant is happy to be part of the project, Kristjansson said.

“It’s an issue for charity right now — after no golf tournaments and all sorts of difficulty getting people together to find charitable reasons to donate.”

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