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As graduations return in person, Saskatoon seeing an economic boost

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As students get ready for their in-person graduations, many places across the city are in-preparation too, providing a strong economic boost in Saskatoon – Jun 3, 2022

After two years without in-person graduations and minimal weddings and events, some businesses in Saskatoon were struggling.

“It was kind of this two-year period where we were just treading water, making sure that we were operating the business the right way, given the fact that the demand for event-level … type of apparel was significantly lower,” said Lance Itkoff, Grafton Apparel CEO.

This year, things are opening back up and students are getting to experience walking across the stage during graduation.

Read more: Saskatoon students get ready for first in-person graduation in two years

As well, people are holding weddings and events in person once again.

“June and a bit of July are actually quite packed with events and when we look towards fall, that’s really the time when September through the new year will be on that ramp solidly,” said Kirby Wirchenko, TCU Place community engagement director.

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Dress and suit shops are happy about the comeback after the two-year drought.

“A lot of companies are limping out of the pandemic, especially retail companies. And I’m really happy with the position of our company and we’ve never been in better shape. I think that the decisions we’ve made have gotten us to that point,” said Itkoff.

Many felt the pinch with the lack of customers the past two years, but Prairieland Park and TCU Place used the time to upgrade.

Read more: Thames Valley graduation rates hit historical high

“We were able to take advantage of the downtime, and upgrade our facilities. We were able to invest millions of dollars into a full renovation of hall c,” said Jason Hynd, Prairieland Park sales and events director.

The suit store, Tiptop, has already started seeing more people.

“When we look at sales for March, we’re looking at it against March of 2019. When you look at that comparison, you know the customers have come to us in numbers that we’ve never seen before,” said Itkoff.

Venues are preparing for the upcoming season of grads, weddings and events.

“Just in the last three to four weeks and in the next three to four weeks, all combined, I think we have about 15 or 16 grads of different types on the books,” said Wirchenko.

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