The pandemic has devastated companies across all sectors, but a couple of Saskatoon businesses have found unique ways to stay afloat and build upwards.
Jeff Rushton, one of the owners of Better Brother Brewing, offers 742 growlers at 1.89 litres for $5,000 a year as part of what he calls the “742 membership.”
“Which is the cheapest, lowest alcohol price you can get that the SOJ would approve, and I fought for that,” Rushton said, explaining the price-point.
Members also get a sign on the wall for life, a once-a-year taproom rental for life, and a free in-store two-litre root beer every week.
“It’s just a way that people or businesses can kind of partner with us, and it’s almost like they’re family now.”
With the money raised through memberships, Rushton says he is hoping to expand the canning side of the business to support more off-sales.
Rushton and his wife Jocelyn started their business in January 2020, right before the pandemic was declared. He said they kept things going through off-sales until public health measures were lifted and they were able to open their doors fully.
Rushton said getting people to come out of their homes can still be a bit of a struggle.
“I think people’s habits have changed a little bit during the pandemic over the last two years,” Rushton added.
Brandon Wicks, co-owner at Rise Strength Lab, said they to have had to be creative to keep their business alive during COVID.
Wicks said they found ways of staying relevant and getting income by holding free online workouts and renting out equipment.
Lately they’ve been pre-selling memberships and services for a new space they’re looking to move into.
“We went to the banks and they said ‘hey guys, your financials aren’t quite where it needs to be for us to lend, but if you were able to fix some of your debts this could look really possible for you.'”
Wicks added that pre-sales allowed them to get their hands on the funds needed to fix that debt and show how successful their business could be with a new space.
“The anxiety is there. We’ve worked really hard for it, and I feel like we’re ready for it. The community is ready for it, everyone rallied and wanted to do that with us. (If) it doesn’t go through and we have to break the bad news that we didn’t get it, I’m going to be pretty heartbroken, and I feel like a big portion of our community will also be heartbroken.”