Jeanette Mitten, owner of Once Again New and Consignment Boutique, is one of many business owners who are financially struggling this year. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

Jeanette Mitten, owner of Once Again New and Consignment Boutique, is one of many business owners who are financially struggling this year. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

Red Deer businesses hurting, wishing more customers before Christmas

‘People need to work to be able to spend’

Red Deer business owner Jeanette Mitten has gone through her savings and sold off two horses to try to stay afloat in 2020.

“I am so stressed out with these restrictions, don’t know what I’m going to do,” admitted the owner of Once Again New and Consignment Boutique in downtown Red Deer.

Weeks leading up to Christmas are supposed to be the most lucrative of the year for retailers. Yet customers are so scared of catching COVID-19, many of them are staying home, said Mitten.

Five “shopping parties” had been booked at her 48th Street store this month but had to be cancelled — even before Premier Jason Kenney banned all indoor gatherings and ordered retailers to reduce their customer capacity to 15 per cent to reduce viral spread.

Mitten said the women who had appointments to shop after hours had called in with concerns about potentially catching the virus.

Now such after-hours group shopping events have been forbidden under new provincial rules that ban all indoor and outdoor gatherings.

With so many central Albertans out of work, affordable consignment stores should be doing better, “but honestly, I don’t think buying clothes is a priority right now,” added Mitten.

The Swedish native has been in Canada for 30 years and plans to stick it out in hopes of finding some business relief in 2021.

It can’t be much worse, Mitten surmised, since she’s seeing only a handful of customers a days now. “I had one person in yesterday… there are no revenues…”

Similar concern is being expressed by other local business owners, who have been struggling under a dual burden of a pandemic on top of a provincial recession.

“People have forgotten that the economy was in critical condition before the pandemic began,” said Gareth Scott, co-owner of Fetch Haus, pet supplies.

He explained his store’s revenues have decreased every year since he bought the business in 2018. “This year we’ve taken the biggest hit yet. Business is down 30 to 40 per cent” from 2019, he added.

Whether people are buying less than premium pet food now, have surrendered their dogs to economize, or have left town to seek employment, all Scott knows is his list of dedicated clients has been whittled down.

Scott, who retired from the oilfield in 2017, believes the government has found “no clear path forward” in stimulating Alberta’s economy to fuel job creation.

“People need to work to be able to spend more. And they’ve got to go where the work is…”

To boost his store’s revenues, Scott has been expanding online services and products and is offering delivery, among various initiatives.

But although there’s been a positive push for buying local, he remains concerned about how many Red Deer-area merchants will survive this perfect storm of pandemic and poor economy.

“A lot of small businesses are shutting down and they aren’t going to be operating again,” he predicted.

This year hasn’t dealt a crushing blow to all local businesses, however. When it comes to significant jewelry purchases, people are still getting engaged, getting married and having anniversaries, said Curtis Phagoo, a custom designer with Red Deer Goldsmiths. He added there’s also been a steady trade in repairs and rings sizings.

While revenues at the jewelry store are down over last year, Phagoo said there were also some cost savings when the store wasn’t operational that helped mitigate losses.

And Red Deer Goldsmiths participated in a government loans program that was offered earlier this year to businesses affected by the spring lock down. It allowed a $30,000 repayment on a $40,000 loan.

It’s too early to predict Christmas sales — which started late this year, said Phagoo. But since many of the store’s clients are older and more established, he believes they might be less financially affected by the pandemic than younger demographics.

“We’ve had some of our clientele for 40 years, so maybe that age group is more stable.”



lmichelin@reddeeradvocate.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

red deer city

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dwayne Buckle, 40 of Red Deer finished a 1,638-kilometre walk, in honour of his family. The 12-week, 82 day-journey wrapped up in Port Hardy, B.C. on Monday. Facebook photo
Red Deer man completes 1,638 km hike for cancer research

Dwayne Buckle, a Red Deer firefighter returned home Friday after his 12-week journey

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine deliveres to Canada are being delayed because of complications at their European distribution facility. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Delays of Pfizer vaccine delivery to impact Alberta’s vaccination plans

Alberta has administered 74,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine so far

Two inmates at Bowden Institution have tested positive for COVID-19. (Black Press File Photo)
2 Bowden inmates test positive for COVID-19

A pair of inmates at Bowden Institution have tested positive for COVID-19.… Continue reading

Salons and barbershops are able to open on Monday, the Government of Alberta announced this week. (Photo courtesy Pixabay)
Red Deer salon owner “relieved” business can re-open next week

The owner of a Red Deer salon says she’s “definitely relieved” her… Continue reading

Red Deer Valhalla Pure Outfitters owner Darren Schaedeli has seen a significant increase in those looking to tackle winter experiences. Some are trying their hand at "hot tent camping" as he did in the West Country several weeks ago.
Photo contributed
Central Albertans enjoying the great outdoors this winter

Stir crazy and beach-deprived central Albertans are embracing the great outdoors this… Continue reading

Lesser Slave Lake UCP MLA Pat Rehn. (Facebook)
Updated: Jason Kenney kicks Lesser Slave Lake MLA out of caucus

Pat Rehn will not be permitted to run for UCP nominations

Manchester United's Tobin Heath celebrates scoring against West Ham United during the FA Women's Super League match at Victoria Road Stadium, London, Sunday Oct. 18, 2020. (John Walton/PA via AP)
Double 1st: Man U men, women leading 2 leagues, play champs

Double 1st: Man U men, women leading 2 leagues, play champs

A group of Buffalo Bills fans from Toronto pose for a photo while tailgating in the parking lot of New Era Field before an NFL football game between the Bills and the New York Jets, Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018, in Orchard Park, N.Y. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Adrian Kraus
Being unable to attend Bills playoff games due to pandemic pains Canadian fans

Being unable to attend Bills playoff games due to pandemic pains Canadian fans

FILE - Chicago Cubs' Kris Bryant runs the bases after hitting a solo home run in the sixth inning during a baseball game against the Cleveland Indians in Cleveland, in this Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020, file photo. Bryant is among roughly 125 players who entered Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, eligible to exchange salary arbitration figures with their teams. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File)
Lindor, Bryant, Bellinger, Seager get big-money deals

Lindor, Bryant, Bellinger, Seager get big-money deals

Brooklyn Nets coach Steve Nash points during the third quarter of the team's NBA basketball game against the New York Knicks on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, in New York. (Brad Penner/Pool Photo via AP)
More NBA games off, as league continues struggles with virus

More NBA games off, as league continues struggles with virus

Washington Capitals' Jakub Vrana (13) is congratulated for his goal during the second period of the team's NHL hockey game against the Buffalo Sabres, Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)
Vanecek makes 28 saves in NHL debut, Capitals sweep Sabres

Vanecek makes 28 saves in NHL debut, Capitals sweep Sabres

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Collin Delia (60) makes a save after Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Ondrej Palat (18) fell down during the first period of an NHL hockey game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Stamkos, Palat lift Lightning over Blackhawks again

Stamkos, Palat lift Lightning over Blackhawks again

Canadian women's soccer team member Rhian Wilkinson is seen during a training session in Vancouver, B.C. Wednesday, April 21, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Former Canadian international Rhian Wilkinson leaves Canada Soccer coaching job

Former Canadian international Rhian Wilkinson leaves Canada Soccer coaching job

Tkachuk, Senators down Maple Leafs 5-3 in 1st game in 10 months

Tkachuk, Senators down Maple Leafs 5-3 in 1st game in 10 months

Most Read