A commentary by the co-owner of ScanDesigns and Muse & Merchant in Langford. Part of our continuing series on the impact of COVID-19 on local businesses.
The pandemic has shown us what a vulnerable world we live in when a virus can attack and spread over the entire world, causing severe economic damage.
Now, more than ever and as restrictions lift, it is imperative to support small, local businesses or they will not survive, leaving us to become dependent on large foreign-owned corporations.
Our businesses, ScanDesigns and Muse & Merchant, recently reopened after a two-month shutdown caused by the pandemic. We have all but one of our 17 staff back in the stores and business is restarting.
As a member of the Greater Victoria business community since 1983, ScanDesigns and Muse & Merchant have experienced many business and economic cycles.
But the COVID-19 pandemic and shutdown are truly unprecedented.
As with many businesses, ScanDesigns and Muse & Merchant are dependent on the supply chain for retail operations, sourcing our merchandise from Canada, the U.S. and overseas.
Just before the pandemic paralyzed the economy, we were greatly affected by all the protests and blockades which closed railway shipping and port operations and stranding hundreds of thousands of dollars in merchandise, setting us up for a double whammy and incurring unrecoverable costs.
While our goods sat offshore for at least a month, COVID-19 was shutting down factories globally. This greatly affected our operations and the customer who is at the heart of our business. As we witnessed one business after another shut its doors, perhaps never to reopen again, our concerns were for all as we moved to keep our staff and customers safe by practising social distancing and increased health and safety measures regularly throughout the day.
As time went on, it became evident we may have to temporarily close our doors. That day arrived in mid-March and heart-wrenching decisions had to be made. Of great concern was our dedicated and loyal staff, being our most precious asset and how do we minimize the pain to them and their families.
Although the retail area of the store was closed and employees were laid off, our warehouse and operations team continued working.
The store closure created an interim opportunity for projects to be carried out by remaining staff while still maintaining all necessary safety precautions. In the meantime, laid-off staff members were grateful to be able to take advantage of government support programs.
We continue to be in contact with our valued customers, keeping them updated on the status of their orders and the measures we have taken to re-open our stores. We are doing everything within our capabilities to facilitate and process outstanding orders and new orders. We encourage people to visit the stores or contact us by phone or email if we can be of service in any way. ScanDesigns also has an online presence for ordering and continues to maintain that service.
Shopping locally has never been more important than right now.