By Zachary Roman
Adjusting to new rules and regulations is never easy in the best of times butcounty businesses have had to do it in the worst of times and find newways to survive amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Shawn Chamberlin theowner of The Dominion Hotel and Pub in Minden has been feeling theeffects of the COVID-19 economic shutdown in full force. The Dominionhas lost a major source of their income as they have not been able torent rooms. They have started doing takeout from their pub and while it is going well Chamberlin said it won’t be enough and is especiallyworried about those he employs. To do takeout the Dominion set up anonline ordering and payment system and will put your food right in your car when you pick it up for a completely contactless and safeexperience.
Chamberlin said that the Dominion Pub will be continuingto do takeout throughout the pandemic. “When they forced us to closenothing stopped our bills are still coming in and we have to find away to pay for those and that means everything we’ve got we’ve got topull the stops out … we’re going to be doing whatever we can do withinthe limits of law to generate revenues” said Chamberlin. “Wedesperately want to get our staff back we’re concerned for all of themand their families. It’s a hard time for businesses but it’s just ashard a time for employees. “We’re really concerned we take veryseriously the fact that we’re supporting all these families they allrely on us. Our staff is like family and we just hate to see this comeon them too.”
As far as government support goes Chamberlin said heis not interested in the Canada Emergency Business Account. The accountprovides interest free loans of up to $40000 to small businesses andnon-profits whose revenues have been impacted as a result of COVID-19 –and if the loans are paid back before December 31 2022 loanforgiveness of 25 per cent will be granted. “I would say that we’repretty much left out to dry” said Chamberlin. “We’re going into debtlike crazy now and the last thing we need is another loan.”
Chamberlin said he is optimistic that the government is trying to get things open but said that even if things do progress the Dominion will probably not be functional until next year. Despite the tough times Chamberlin’scurrent situation has taught him an important lesson about not being sohard on himself. “A lot of us business owners in particular we tend toself-flagellate. Anytime our business goes down … or the money doesn’tcome in we tend to blame ourselves. And we live with this continualamount of guilt because well maybe we should have advertised more ormaybe we should have stood out front and shook hands” said Chamberlin.“This time around I think that we’ve all learned that it’s not alwaysour fault … there’s comfort in knowing that you can’t controleverything. And maybe the lesson we learn is that you know we may besmart business owners but we’re not in control of everything.”
Michael Schiedel-Webb is the co-owner of Haliburton Highlands Brewing. Thingshave been a little different for his company as they are classified asan essential service. “We’ve been able to allow people to come insidewe can pack their orders for them they can pay for their purchases”said Schiedel-Webb. “But we’ve also made it a bit easier by building our online store allowing people to order online [and] pay online … sothey can have curbside pickup without having any contact.”
Whilepeople can come into the store to purchase beer the brewery’s tap roomis closed and Schiedel-Webb said that has been the hardest part. “We’re a family business … we live and work together” said Schiedel-Webb.“What’s really missing from our lives right now is the social aspectthat we get when we have friends and customers in having a pint of beerand chatting.”
Haliburton Highlands Brewing has also added a delivery service which they try to line up with Canoe FM’s radio bingo – onTuesdays they will deliver your beer and bingo cards all at once.Schiedel-Webb said getting delivery set up was a challenge because oftheir location being a bit out of the way but that it is under controlnow. “Shippers used to working in the city have a harder time gettingused to where we’re located” said Schiedel-Webb. “Making a delivery of a six pack of beer out to Tory Hill is a long way to go and then it’s along way to come back. So it can be a challenge from that perspectivebut business is picking up on that front.”
Paul Roy co-owner ofUpRiver Trading Company said they had been completely closed at boththeir Minden and Haliburton locations until May 20. They launched anonline shopping component to their site while their storefronts wereclosed but said it was the kindness of their customers that really kept them going. Roy said that some customers had even purchased gift cardsfor future use knowing the business could use the help now in thesetough times. “Our community of customers are some of the best peoplearound” said Roy. In order to reopen on the 20th – in compliance withphase one of the Ontario government’s plan for reopening the province –UpRiver installed acrylic barriers at the cash registers put in floormarkers two metres apart and installed a cleaning station at the door.