Local businesses support each other during tough times
With many businesses suffering more than at any point during the pandemic, certain local enterprises are doing what they can to keep Aylmer’s commercial arteries alive by uniting the community. According to the owner of Beurre Salé Crêperie et Boutique, Coralie Goncalves, the pandemic has been tough on business and has made constant adaptation necessary.
Following a surprisingly successful summer that rivaled last year’s profits, Goncalves was recently forced to temporarily close the waffle house as the Québec government announced that the region was in the red zone.
While trying to be optimistic, she wouldn’t be surprised if the state of emergency gets extended beyond the October 28 projected end date. Since her menu doesn’t provide food for take-out, she said that if the region lingers in the red zone a longer period, she’ll need to adapt her business to be viable without dine-in service. Whether that’s implementing a selection of take-out items on the menu on weekends or further promoting the business’s boutique side of things, she’s been in conversations with ID Gatineau to find the best ways to optimize a bad situation.
In an effort to support local artisans and merchants, as well as promoting her boutique, Goncalves organized an artisanal pop-up market at her location last weekend, featuring a wide diversity of goods provided by several local producers. Leading up to the holidays, she hopes to host more of these events to keep the community involved in supporting everything local. Emphasizing their importance to the vibrancy of Old Aylmer and the whole sector, Goncalves stressed the need to support them whenever possible, especially in trying times. “If people don’t want to see dead streets … people need to prioritize us,” Goncalves said. “There are things we can find locally that we don’t need to buy from big chains. Otherwise, the entire rue Principale is going to die. You can buy gift cards to help businesses get through tough times and then use them when they open again.”
Co-owner of 5e Baron Jacob Barrette shares similar values, believing that all local businesses are crucial to the sector. “If we lose even one business, on rue Principale especially, it would be a tremendous loss,” Barrette said. “We’re of the opinion that … the tide that rises floats all boats, and the more small great businesses are on rue Principale, the more it becomes a popular destination.”
While business has slowed down in the last month, Barrette noted that business explodes every time a new beer flavour gets released. Temporarily closed to the public, the business is still selling beer cans to go. Focusing on ways to thrive through the winter and the rest of the pandemic, Barrette said the business wants to keep the microbrewery’s experience enjoyable for people waiting outside for their stuff.
Collaborating with different local businesses throughout the summer, including Ke Ola café poké bar, Brown Bag Coffee Roasters and Clandestin creative kitchen, 5e Baron initiated pop-up market-style events on their release dates and intends on continuing to do so, Barrette said. “If we continue to get that sort of turnout when we launch new beers … why not invite other businesses so it makes it easier for people to purchase locally and limit their movements at the same time,” Barrette said. “We wanted to offer a bit of variety and exposure to other businesses.”
For their next release date, October 29, 5e Baron will host Antonyme, L’Autre Œil and products from Béatrice et Chocolats for another pop-up event and will feature four new beers – including a special pale ale dedicated to small businesses in Old Aylmer. Titled Principâle, its label illustrates a map of old Aylmer with dots locating different small businesses to remind people of the importance of shopping local.
---A week to cherish local businesses
Last week, the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses (FCEI) announced Small and Medium Business Week, as part of its #JeChoisiPME buy local campaign.
Typically, a week of celebrating businesses and what they bring to communities all over the country by supporting them, current circumstances have made this year’s campaign much different, but no less important, according to Québec FCEI vice-president François Vincent, noting that the holidays will be an especially crucial time of year for small and medium businesses. “Businesses have never needed our help more than now,” Vincent said. Considering the effects of the pandemic on local businesses, the FCEI noted that it will take a long time for many businesses to bounce back from such an unprecedented crisis.
According to a press release issued by the FCEI on October 19, 74 per cent of businesses in the province were completely open, compared to 78 per cent last month; 49 per cent of businesses were fully staffed, compared to 52 per cent in September; and 35 per cent of enterprises were making normal sales, compared to 40 per cent last month. Nationwide, 72 per cent of businesses were completely open, compared to 70 per cent last month; 48 per cent of businesses were fully staffed, compared to 42 per cent in September. It added that 30 per cent of businesses were making normal sales, the same as last month.