Sudbury small businesses adjusting to new normal during mandatory shutdown

As of midnight Wednesday morning, all non-essential stores and services in Ontario are closed.

3 Sudbury businesses share how they're planning to stay afloat during closure

Sudbury small businesses and staff, like those at salon Collective Haus, are adapting to the new normal of the COVID-19 pandemic (Collective Haus/Facebook)

As of midnight Wednesday morning, all non-essential stores and services in Ontario are closed.

Many businesses had already closed their doors in an effort to comply with social distancing measures.

Jimmy Giroux, the co-owner of Collective Haus barbershop and salon in downtown Sudbury, said he implemented extra cleaning measures, stopped offering certain services, and screened customers–  all in an effort to reduce health risks.

But on Monday morning, he and his partner announced they would be closing for at least a week. 

"Last week, we watched Trudeau talk. It was I mean, everyone is doing what they can and at this time, nobody knows what's going on," Giroux said.  "And we were left kind of not knowing what to do. So we weren't really sure ethically if we should even be open."

The barber's chair at Collective Haus salon will remain empty until non-essential services are allowed to re-open to the public. (Collective Haus/Facebook)

Giroux said he discussed the option of closing with his staff.

"They said 'we're with you guys.' Let's get the trickle through the week. See how it goes. And then coming to this week, we will close."

That was before Premier Doug Ford made the announcement about mandated closures. 

"We knew it was going to happen, and we knew ethically that it was right for us to close," Giroux said. "Especially barbershops, considering that they might be seeing a client every half an hour."

"That's a lot of people through your doors, and barbershops and salons should be closed."

"We know financially, it won't be great," Giroux said. "But at least we aren't spreading an illness."

Businesses are still permitted to operate by phone, mail and online and do deliveries. Giroux said Collective Haus has started selling merchandise, and is looking into other options, including selling hair colouring kits to allow people to do at-home touchups.  

Bay Used Books has adjusted to mandatory closures by offering online shopping. Owner Anne Bouffard says business was slow at first, but getting busier by the day. (Bay Used Books/Facebook)

Anne Bouffard, co-owner of Bay Used Books in Sudbury, said she remains positive despite having to adjust how the store does business.

"I think it's only really hit us in the last week, when we had to tell our employees that we had to lay them off because of what was going on and we had to shut our doors," she said.

Before that, staff had been practicing social distancing, as well as sanitizing to keep them clear of the coronavirus. They even stopped accepting new books out of concern of being infected.

Bouffard said the store has converted to online sales, a stream she hopes continues after the pandemic subsides.

"One of our employees is coming in every day between 12 and 4 to look at the messages, respond, get back to customers," she said.

"When they get to our parking lot, they usually just give us a quick call and say, 'Okay, I'm here.' And we either run out and drop it in the backseat, or we'll leave it on the front steps and they'll pick it up." 

She said it was slow business at first, but the last few days has seen an uptick in activity. 

'Stressed, and quite a bit of anxiety'

Lory Law of Ink Fix tattoos in Sudbury said she is feeling "stressed and quite a bit of anxiety" as her husband's business was forced to temporarily close.

She said they likely would have closed the tattoo shop anyway, after walk-ins slowed to a trickle, and out of concern for public safety.

"There's nothing we can do about it," Law said. "We have had people ask us if we would be willing to go to their homes and tattoo them at their homes. And, of course, you can't do that for sanitary reasons."

Law said with no clear end in sight to the pandemic, the couple will have to look at other means to keep the shop afloat.

"It's definitely going to affect us," she said. "I think there will be a lot of utilising of credit we have to try to keep it going."

With files from Sarah MacMillan


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