Resiliency. It is a word that conjures up different images for people. For small business owners and operators, it is often the difference between surviving, thriving, and closing the doors. This is what we see from the small businesses around the decimated Plaza Hotel in downtown Victoria.
The devastating fire had, and continues to have, a significant impact on the businesses in and around Pandora, Johnson and Government streets. For some, it meant closing their doors for a few days while the smoke cleared and the street was re-opened. For others, the doors to their businesses remain closed for a week, their employees missing valuable shifts. A few remain closed.
The DVBA has reached out to these businesses to gauge the impact this event is having. Many of the businesses that reopened have noticed significant reduction in traffic due to the closure of the sidewalk. For those that had damage or lost inventory, their insurance will not make up the difference. I remain in awe over how resilient these business owners are.
They are not blaming anyone for this situation. They are not looking for pity. For these business owners, their two biggest concerns are their staff and their customers. Make no mistake, the Plaza Hotel fire made a huge impact, and the stress is real. Many will not take a salary but will keep staff working even though business is slower. These owners will still pay their suppliers on time, pay their rents, their mortgages, PST and GST remittances, property tax, health employers’ tax, telephone and hydro bills, and so on.
Heidi Sherwood’s Sattva Spa on Government Street may be closed for up to a year due to major water and structural damage caused by the fire. Some of the impacted staff are working out of Heidi’s second downtown location: Sapphire Day Spa on View Street. Heidi remains focused on the road ahead and the reopening of the spa. And her top priority is supporting her staff and providing space centred around self-care and stress management.
So how can you help? Take the time to come to the shops and restaurants on Government, Pandora and Johnson streets. Make a choice to have a meal in this area, grab a coffee or tea, buy a yoga pass, treat yourself to a new article of clothing or buy a toy. Spend a morning or afternoon at the Sapphire Day Spa, knowing it supports employees impacted by the fire. It is one way community supports community.
Jeff Bray is the executive director for the Downtown Victoria Business Association.