While some businesses in Manitoba are closed under current Covid-19 restrictions, some businesses have been fortunate to remain open through the new COVID-19 restrictions.
Samantha Cluett, owner of Samantha’s Boutique in Elkhorn, Manitoba, says that when she first heard of the restrictions taking effect, she assumed that her business would need to close once again.
“When those announcements came out I assumed that I was going to be closed, and I thought that was it. Usually, I am really grouchy about the restrictions, but this time I was relieved because I got to stay open where so many don’t have that opportunity. I really haven’t had a chance to think about how it will affect me, I’m just thankful I can stay open and I will make it work. It is what it is,” Cluett said.
“I feel for the ones who are closed, though. That hurts my heart. I don’t understand why I can be open at ten per cent capacity but the likes of a hair salon or nail salon have to be closed when they can be one-on-one.”
While able to keep her trendy pink door open to the public, Cluett says it will be difficult to limit how many people are permitted in the building, which is currently five.
“The 10 per cent capacity is going to be a struggle, but I’m open. For me, I thought we would be closed again, but we’re open. I’m thankful and I’m going to push our online sales and we can control who is in our store and how many are in our store. I feel good, I can operate, I can make it work. But I have seen Facebook posts from friends who are in business and lots are doing shopping by appointment only to help them manage that capacity.
“For a small town, five people is very achievable and we can manage with it. But I remain infuriated for the ones who are also in a small town who could also manage the limited capacity but had to close. I can have five people in my place, but salons can’t do things one-on-one. I don’t understand how that is not okay.”
She says that with the southwest corner of Manitoba, there are minimal COVID-19 cases and she believes that the restrictions are unfairly affecting businesses in Elkhorn and other rural communities.
“I don’t know if the people making these decisions have ever been in rural Manitoba.
“We don’t have the cases to warrant this.”
One benefit that Cluett noted was her business’s adaptation to an online platform. She says it was something that she had considered before the pandemic.
“It pushed us out of our comfort zone and it got us online which was something we always said we might do but had never tried it. We go live on Facebook every second Wednesday and we’re selling online and have really connected with our online customers. That was our biggest adaptation. Over Christmas, we were closed for three months, which is our busiest season, so we had to adapt fast.”
Cluett says that her business has seen a drop in income through the pandemic and has had to utilize both the Manitoba Gap Protection Program, a one-time grant of $6,000, and the Manitoba Bridge Program, a grant of $5,000 that has been made available for Manitoba businesses three times through the pandemic.
While Cluett says she is happy that her business is open, she believes that the restrictions that have been put in place should be limited to areas that are seeing high numbers of COVID-19 cases.
“I feel like we’ve held our own. Given everything we have faced in the last year, we have held our own. But I keep going back to us being open, which is a crazy thing, small businesses shouldn’t need to be this excited about being open.
“It’s just frustrating. Elkhorn, Manitoba cannot be treated the same as Winnipeg. We’re not the same, we’re very different. I do believe that restrictions could be handled by area,” Cluett said.
Spencer Kemp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The World-Spectator