by Denny Warner – Executive Director, Saanich Peninsula
Chamber of Commerce –
Recent worldwide events have demonstrated the tremendous levels of resilience, creativity and persistence embodied in our business community. Clearly, it will take more than a pandemic to take down businesses on the Saanich Peninsula.
Admittedly, the first month was rough. In mid-March, confusion and panic reigned as information was largely speculative. Early on, we realized our role at the Chamber would be to focus on three things: to curate and share the most current, accurate information about the pandemic with the business community; to provide up-to-date information to the public about which businesses were open; and to make the needs of businesses known to various levels of government.
It’s a bit like playing Whack-a-Mole: as challenges are resolved, new ones arise. Manufacturers are still repairing ruptured supply chains. Retailers must respond to customers who don’t like the protocols put in place to keep them and vulnerable members of our community safe. The reduction in sales revenue, additional costs of PPE and training for staff have impacted bottom lines. A necessity has arisen to maintain an updated website, Google listing and social media platforms to keep customers informed. Owners must manage human resource issues with employees who have stayed home to look after their children or to protect their own or loved ones’ fragile health.
During the first phase, many businesses closed to take stock of their options and await useful direction. As safe operating procedures were developed, doors began to open, with activities somewhat modified. It was heartening to see the “love for local” that spontaneously manifested. Many of us greeted owners of businesses in our driveways as they delivered the food and beverages we soon learned we didn’t enjoy living without.
We entered the pandemic with the “good bones” of a diversified economy and many attributes that make it more likely that we will come through this with fewer scars than will some other communities. This is, in part, due to our governments, municipal through to federal, which provided speedy assistance.
There are more stories of ingenuity than I can recount. The local distillers who turned their spirits into sanitizer. The restaurants, breweries, and cafes that created distanced, outdoor space for customers and still others that began meal and beverage deliveries. The travel agency that developed mystery tour packages to support local exploration and staycations. The senior care homes that worked tirelessly to keep their clients healthy and connected to loved ones. Countless service providers who created secure online spaces for continuing client care. Pet food stores that offered delivery. Retailers who created online stores, set up appointments for customers, organized curbside pickup, and made home deliveries. The determination of the hotelier who diligently researched products and devices until finally finding a fogger to ensure every surface in every room, from floor to ceiling, was sanitized for the safety of their guests.
If you are reassured by the good news about pre-existing businesses that are thriving, you will be further encouraged by the number of businesses on the Saanich Peninsula that have opened within the past few months. This speaks to the confidence entrepreneurs feel about their prospects for success in this community. However, we must not get complacent. Sustainability is only a possibility if we remain loyal customers of our businesses through the fall and into the new year. Be vocal about local!
With the celebration of Small Business Week in Canada from October 18 through 24, Seaside Magazine is happy to shine a light on some of the Saanich Peninsula’s amazing small businesses and the professionals behind them in the following pages.