Sam Baio, owner of Nelson’s Valhalla Pure Outfitters, says he’s keeping his store closed on Boxing Day due to COVID-19 crowd concerns. Photo: Tyler Harper

Sam Baio, owner of Nelson’s Valhalla Pure Outfitters, says he’s keeping his store closed on Boxing Day due to COVID-19 crowd concerns. Photo: Tyler Harper

Wary of the pandemic, Nelson businesses opt to stay closed on Boxing Day

They say the profit isn’t worth the potential of infection

Every year, Sam Baio looks forward to standing outside his store in a gaudy ski suit to welcome in Boxing Day customers.

The annual Boxing Day sale has always been a big draw at Valhalla Pure Outfitters in downtown Nelson, so much so that Baio wondered if his business wasn’t violating fire codes by having too many people inside.

“In the past I wasn’t sure if the fire department ever shut me down,” he said. “I really enjoyed the buzz of that.”

But this year Baio has decided the buzz — and profit — isn’t worth the safety hazard of having a crowd downtown during a pandemic. So on Saturday, for the first time in 25 years, Valhalla Pure will be closed on Boxing Day.

Baio said when he weighed the draw of Boxing Day against the possibility of COVID-19 spreading on Baker Street, the choice was made for him.

“I have this bit of a moral obligation to think that a decision that I can make actually can change the amount of people downtown.”

Laura Price owns Scout, a women’s clothing store in Nelson. She’s also closing her doors for Boxing Day, which she says will be a first in 15 years of owning a retail store.

Price said she considered the decision for two months before telling her staff they would get a break. Inviting in crowds of customers during a pandemic, she said, makes no sense.

“It just seems bizarre to do this, to do Boxing Day, when it’s a day when the store is packed,” she said.

The holiday season is typically an important time for the city’s small businesses ahead of a usual drop in business in January and February, according to Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce executive director Tom Thomson.

But Thomson said this year, when the spring lockdown led to both temporary and permanent closures, has put many businesses in the position of relying on the holidays to help recover from financial losses.

“Just like in the summertime a lot of the accommodators and [restaurants] need to build up a bit of a war chest to get them through quieter times and the shoulder seasons, I think the smaller businesses need to do the same type of thing,” said Thomson.

”They need to have a really great November, December to carry them through the quieter months.”

Baio said his business benefited this year by selling equipment for outdoor recreation, which the province encouraged. His online business boomed, and Black Friday in November also took pressure off his need to make sales on Boxing Day.

That has put Baio in a privileged position to close on Dec. 26, but he’s also sensitive to the needs of other owners who don’t have that luxury.

“This is when you put money in the bank and it carries you through slow times. So I understand that,” he said. “But I need to do this because I think I’m making a good point here and we draw so many people to our store on Baker Street.”

Price also had a better year than expected. Her customers spent their money in the province this year, and have already supported her decision to sit out Boxing Day.

“I’m totally excited to not be open,” she said.

Related: Black Friday shopping in a pandemic: COVID-19 closes some stores, sales move online

@tyler_harper | tyler.harper@nelsonstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Just Posted

Fernie Aquatic Centre is scheduled to reopen in mid to late September. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Fernie Aquatic Centre to get new starting blocks

The new blocks will allow the centre to host more competitive swim meets

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

Brock Tomlinson, Kiera Hansen on top, Jackson Radkie and Jarren Beck are some of the Elk Valley Dolphins' divisional championship qualifiers: pictured here excited to race. (Contributed by Angie Abdou)
Eight Dolphins qualify for divisional championships

Contributed by Angie Abdou Elk Valley Dolphins Swim Club June 19th brings… Continue reading

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

Students at Creston Valley Secondary School put together an art installation of a replica residential school room. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)
Creston students create art installation of residential school room

The replica was decorated with a small bed, school uniform, and notes written with pleas for help

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

Most Read