Nova Centre construction casualties turn to #HfxPylonClub

A group of about a dozen downtown businesses are using the hashtag #HfxPylonClub to encourage people to support local businesses amid street closures.

Salon owner Fred Connors also offers up north end space for holiday pop-up shops

Some downtown Halifax businesses say they're losing tens of thousands of dollars due to Nova Centre construction. (Yvonne Colbert/CBC)

Small businesses in downtown Halifax are trying to cushion the blow of street closures and traffic disruptions caused by Nova Centre construction during the peak holiday season.

A group of about a dozen downtown businesses are using the hashtag #HfxPylonClub to encourage people to support local stores and restaurants. They're offering discounts to people who pick up a #HfxPylonClub pin in one of their stores. 

"People are really coming together now because they know it's taken a lot for people to realize how much of an impact it has made on local businesses," said Sam Shannon, a part-time employee at Inkwell Boutique who sells her own art and illustrations at the shop.

She says the group is hoping to remind people that stores remain open despite the construction. 

"Shopping local is important no matter what the circumstance is and no matter how hard it is to get downtown with construction," she said.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business has written a letter to Halifax council, asking it to do something in the short term to help struggling businesses. It also wants the city to implement a construction mitigation policy to govern future projects

Some businesses say they've lost ten of thousands of dollars, others hundreds of thousands during Nova Centre construction. Shannon says the Downtown Halifax Business Commission has been in touch to discuss the challenges posed by construction.

It is also offering temporary shop space at historic properties. 

Another offer to help has come from the city's north end. Fred Connors, who owns a salon on the corner of North and Agricola Streets, is offering up space in his business for pop-up shops.

He says he was "shocked at the amount of chaos and confusion" downtown and knows from his own experience that shoppers don't like to go out of their way or be inconvenienced. 

"Construction can be devastating to cash flow for a small business," he told CBC's Mainstreet

Fred Connors, who owns a salon on the corner of North and Agricola Streets, is offering up space in his business for pop-up shops. (CBC)

"I think when you have an abundance you should share it. And when people I know are struggling downtown to be able to reach their customers without huge obstacles, I thought [the space] would be a way to reach their customers with greater ease."

Part of the salon has been hosting pop-up shops since the café and gallery closed earlier this fall. 

Connors says since posting his offer on Facebook Thursday night, he's been flooded with responses and staff will now consider whether any of the feedback could translate into retail space over the holidays.

Shannon says Inkwell is appreciative of the offers to help, but it would be difficult to open a second location with only a staff of three. 

For now the business is trying to ensure people know they're still open on Market Street, which will be closed from Nov. 25 to Dec.18 because of Nova Centre construction,

"We've been here for four-and-a-half years. This is our home so we're not looking to re-located, we're just making to make the best of our situation right now."