In the last couple of weeks, several Elk Valley businesses have announced the permanent closure of their brick and mortar stores as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first announcement came via Facebook on May 17 when First Perk Coffee House and Eatery, a community staple in Jaffray, let their loyal customers know that they would be closing permanently. In the post, the owners and staff reminisced about starting the coffee house seventeen years ago and all of the adventures they’ve had since. Despite a love for the community and a commitment to quality food and service, the coffee house will not be reopening in the future.
“The COVID changes being imposed to our restaurant’s warm atmosphere just do not fit with who we are and the service we’ve strived to provide. Every year, we have had to increase prices, and every year we have agonized on the cost to our customers and our community,” First Perk stated in their Facebook post.
First Perk is not the only cafe feeling the pressure of COVID-19. Fernie’s popular Mugshots Cafe announced their permanent closure only two days later on May 19.
“I have poured my heart and soul into this cozy little corner of our town for over 12 years,” said Shauntelle Nelson in a Facebook post. “The laughter, tears, hugs, struggles, growth, friendships, chaos, love, warmth and community that this little cafe have gifted me will forever be cherished.”
Mugshots Cafe shut down on March 15 due to COVID-19 and circumstances that the cafe calls beyond their control. The cafe offered their sincere thanks to the community that has supported them for so many years and for “the thousands of coffees and muffins and soups and red neck breakfasts and breakfast burritos and paninis and smoothies and smiles and laughs and hugs over the past 12 years.”
Another Fernie business was forced to close their brick and mortar store in the same week. Heaven Boutique, a consignment shop previously located on Second Avenue in Fernie, announced on May 18 that they would not be reopening in a physical space.
“If you’ve been downtown you will have noticed that Heaven Boutique has closed its doors,” the shop announced in a Facebook post. “The building lease was up for renewal this spring. Given the current state of the world, obvious decline in tourism this summer, looming recession and challenges that all brick and mortar businesses are facing these days, I couldn’t bring myself to renew.”
Despite the closure of the physical store, Heaven Boutique is adapting and will continue to sell consignment items in a variety of online fashions moving forward.
As restrictions in the province are being lifted, some small businesses in the Elk Valley are being forced to make some difficult decisions. While some retail and restaurants were able to weather the storm, others will not be reopening even now that they are technically allowed by the province.