Ottawa

These local businesses are thriving in the time of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult — but with people remaining close to home and looking for ways to stay busy, some businesses are doing well. They've weathered some of the early challenges and now say they're seeing customers come back, both physically and virtually. 

From spin classes to fishing trips, some businesses say demand is up

Barrhaven spin studio Elevate Spin is one of a number of businesses that have survived by getting creative during the pandemic — in their case, by moving classes outdoors. (Third Line Health & Fitness)

The COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult — but with people remaining close to home and looking for ways to stay busy, some businesses are thriving.

They've weathered some of the early challenges and now say they're seeing customers come back, some physically and some virtually. 

CBC Ottawa recently spoke with three local businesses about how they've managed to stay afloat. 

GameZetera has been seeing a spike in sales since the video game store reopened its two locations in Ottawa. Co-owner Pierre Tessier said interest in old video games, especially, has gone 'through the roof.' (Shane Trowsse)

Video game sales 'through the roof'

When the lockdown was first introduced, Ottawa video game store GameZetera didn't have much of an online presence.

Their two stores relied heavily on people coming in to browse, said co-owner Pierre Tessier. 

So they posted items they had in stock online and began to make home deliveries. When stores were allowed to open in May, GameZetera welcomed people back — and now, Tessier says, video game sales are "through the roof."

"It's actually gone really well, because a lot of people are really in the mood to find leisure activities that they can do at home," he said, estimating sales have doubled since they reopened. 

The store specializes in vintage video games, and Nintendo 64 and Nintendo GameCube are very popular right now, Tessier said.

"There's this insatiable appetite for old video games," he said.

While uncertainty remains around COVID, Tessier said he doesn't see the interest in video games waning.

"If anything, I see it going up." 

Spin studio owner Jessica Turanec had been open three months when Ottawa went into lockdown. She moved quickly to keep clients engaged, and has been able to reopen her studio. (Elevate Spin)

Spin studio adapts to the pandemic

Jessica Turanec is looking forward to seeing people come back to her Barrhaven spin studio.

The owner of Elevate Spin had only been open about three months when the pandemic forced her to shut down. 

At first, it was upsetting, Turanec said. But a few days into the lockdown, she decided to rent out her 38 brand new stationary bikes.

Those rentals were snapped up within minutes after she made the offer on social media. She then began filming spin sessions and developed online classes, which have been popular.

"It was more for me to bring our spin to people at home, and to bring a little bit of joy in this uncertain time, and to bring a little normalcy," she said.

When Stage 2 allowed outdoor gatherings of 10 people, Turanec partnered with Third Line Health and Fitness, an outdoor workout space in Manotick, to offer classes outside.

They were "a complete hit" and sold out "within seconds," she said.

"It's a different type of spin. There are goats, there are chickens, it's actually quite fun," said Turanec.

WATCH: Adapting spin classes

Jessica Turanec, who owns Elevate Spin in Barrhaven, said her outdoor spin classes were a hit with customers, who were happy to see workout friends again while staying at a safe distance. 0:46

 She said many people told her they really appreciated being around people and see people smiling again, but they still felt safe. 

The studio has taken a financial hit from COVID-19, Turanec said, but the bike rentals, online classes and outdoor sessions have helped them make it through.

As of Monday, Elevate Spin will be back open at half its capacity. Turanec said she's aware of COVID-19 outbreaks at other Canadian spin studios, but is taking precautions to ensure customers' safety.

"We've had great feedback and we're really excited," Turanec said.

Yannick Loranger has been very busy guiding fishers on the Ottawa River since he was allowed to restart his business in mid-June. (Ottawa River Guided Fishing )

New interest in fishing

Like other fishing guides this year, Yannick Loranger started his season about a month late.

But in June — as soon as he was allowed to take people back on the water — Loranger was overwhelmed with requests for excursions on the Ottawa River.

Loranger's company in Rockland, Ont., Ottawa River Guided Fishing, takes people out for half-day and full-day trips to catch pike, muskie and walleye.

"I think people are looking for things to do, looking to get outside," said Loranger, noting roughly 20 to 25 per cent of his clientele is made up of new customers.

"I'm working awfully hard these days."

He's also had to turn people down because of the demand, he added. 

"I have to say, I've almost made up for lost time." 

About the Author

Jennifer Chen is a journalist and digital/radio producer at CBC Ottawa. Previously, she worked as a radio producer at CBC Vancouver for 14 years.

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