Shuswap Pie Company, March 23, 2020. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)

Salmon Arm businesses close, adjust in response to COVID-19 crisis

Groups united behind the scenes to support needs of community

“There are more cars on the street than I thought there’d be,” noted Stewart Fells before crossing Hudson Avenue to get started on his last work day before closing his downtown Salmon Arm restaurant indefinitely.

It was just after 8 a.m. on Monday, March 23, and Fells and his team at Hungry Panda were going to be spending the day preparing meals for delivery to use up the food they had on hand before the closure. Already there were large signs in restaurant’s windows announcing, “Closed until further notice.”

Similar signs could be found in the windows of restaurants and other businesses throughout the downtown announcing closures or adjusted business models, all in support of the effort to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

As of March 24, the business association Downtown Salmon Arm reported 35 of its member businesses had closed their doors, with 16 offering a modified business model and six having moved to online sales.

Fells was concerned about the impact all this would have on small businesses, especially if they must remain closed for a prolonged period.

“We’re a small operation with some dedicated staff and we’re doing our best to take care of those staff at this time,” said Fells. “I think we’ll be alright if it’s two weeks or a month. If it’s beyond that, I really don’t know.”

Read more: Grocery runs keep Salmon Arm delivery service busy

Read more: Salmon Arm asked to identify facilities for isolation in COVID-19 response

Home delivery is another option people are looking to. However, Salmon Arm Panago franchise owner Greg Williams said he too has been impacted by current events.

“Our day to day life has changed quite a bit,” said Williams. “We’ve seen about a 35 per cent drop in customers over this time last year, and even beginning of the month to the end of March.”

Having stepped up an already strict sanitization policy, and operating with less staff so that those who wish to self-isolate can do so, Williams hopes to continue operation as long as possible, considering it essential to those who may not have time to cook.

“We see a lot of truck drivers come through here, a lot of front line workers, a lot of deliveries to pharmacies and things like that for people that are still going 40-hours a week or more to help everybody through this,” said Williams. “So essential in a sense that we provide a service that a lot of people are taking advantage of. Then there are some people that need that little break, we can still get a pizza, this is what we’ve done every Friday night. It adds a little bit of normalcy to their life which is a good thing.

As always, working behind the scenes to support local businesses is the Salmon Arm Economic Development Society (SAEDS). In response to the COVID-19 crisis, SAEDS has been having weekly teleconferences with 20 or more community organizations and service providers to share updates on what’s happening in the community and what supports are being made available. SAEDS has also been reaching out to Salmon Arm businesses directly to discuss what they’re experiencing and offer support.

SAEDS economic development manager Lana Fitt said the number one concern heard from businesses was keeping employees safe. Second to that, from businesses in Salmon Arm’s industrial park, was keeping supply chains open so they could access products needed to stay operational. And from the city’s agricultural sector, available labour was a pressing concern.

To make it easier for people to find and support local businesses endeavouring to stay open, SAEDS introduced the hashtag, #ShopShuswap. For restaurants, the hashtag #goodfoodtogo is being used.

Fitt said strategies are being considered for when the crisis is over, something that will be discussed more over the coming weeks. Currently, the priority is addressing the immediate needs of businesses.

“If we haven’t got to you yet in terms of business owners in the community, please reach out to us if you have a need we can support you in,” said Fitt, adding SAEDS phone number, 250-833-0608, remains active. “We want to help businesses in anyway we can.”

Fitt invites residents and business owners to subscribe to the SAEDs newsletter (at the bottom of the SAEDS website) to keep on top weekly updates around COVID-19.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

#Salmon ArmCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Salmon Arm Barbershop, March 23, 2020. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)

Sanctuary Games, March 23, 2020. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)

Barton Insurance, downtown Salmon Arm, March 23, 2020. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)

Crazy River Clothing, March 23, 2020. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)

The Hungry Panda in downtown Salmon Arm closed its dining area on March 18, two days before the province ordered all restaurants in B.C. close their doors to dine-in guests. On March 23, the restaurant closed its doors indefinitely. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)

Just Posted

Shuswap Emergency Program warns residents to prepare now for flooding

Risk of extreme flooding of Salmon River rises with forecast of high temperatures followed by rain

RCMP request public’s help in locating missing Salmon Arm man

Ken Derkach is a familiar face to many, one of the city’s residents who is without a home

Drunk man on dirt bike among May motor vehicle calls for Chase RCMP

Other calls resulted in excessive speed tickets and the arrests of two prohibited drivers

Playgrounds to reopen across the Okanagan on June 1

After nearly two months closure, playgrounds are set to reopen

Mission prison COVID-19 outbreak ends, 9 new cases in B.C.

New positive test at Port Coquitlam care home

Man who bound, murdered Vancouver Island teen still a risk to public: parole board

Kimberly Proctor’s killer is still ‘mismanaging emotions,’ has had ‘temper tantrums’

VIDEO: Humpback whales put on quite a show

The ‘playful’ pod lingered by a Campbell River tour operator’s boat for quite some time

Booze on Kelowna beaches? Mayor says ‘not at the moment’

Mayor Colin Basran says alcohol in public spaces is not on council’s radar right now — but that could change

Getting hitched at historic B.C. gold rush town still on table during COVID-19 pandemic

Micro-weddings, online visits, offered at Barkerville Historic Town and Park

VIDEO: Police look for suspect seen tripping elderly woman in Burnaby

The elderly woman was walking near the SkyTrain station when she was randomly tripped

Summerland amends procedure for virtual council meetings, adding transparency

During COVID-19 pandemic, meetings have been held using online technology

Motor trike crashes into hole in Kelowna

A man was taken to hospital after crashing his trike on Anderson Road

Serious vehicle incident closes Highway 97 near Falkland

DriveBC says an assessment is underway; delays expected

Most Read