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The issue: Yk business

We say: Impressive resiliency

The expression “necessity is the mother of invention” dates back to approximately 380 B.C.

Whoever uttered those words originally didn’t have pandemic-afflicted Yellowknife of 2020 in mind.

Yet the adage fits the local business community like a surgical glove. 

Since Covid-19 intruded on our lives in mid-March, entrepreneurs have had to scramble.

The Monkey Tree pub created a drive-through and dine service whereby customers eat from a tray in their vehicles. 

Sundog Adventures, an outdoor adventure company that lost its tourist clientele to the pandemic, launched day camps for children. 

The Flavour Trader restaurant at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre, went dormant so owner Etienne Croteau shifted gears and began offering pre-packaged meals through his new enterprise Boreal Flavour. Likewise, Stanley Boxing Gym was forced to temporarily shut down so it created a Fit Foodie Meal Prep program.

Even a Yk business mainstay like Bullock’s Bistro felt the pinch from a loss of diners so it turned to baking more bread and producing more salad dressings and fish sauces. 

“It will help supplement some of the loss of business from the restaurant,” owner Jo-Ann Martin told Yellowknifer.

But make no mistake, these innovative ways of generating revenue during a terribly trying period aren’t making up for the Covid devastation suffered by most of these vendors. Martin said it will be a “non-profit year for us for sure, but I think we’ll be able to pay our bills.

“Business-wise I think we’re fortunate we live where we do because of the programs the government has provided. It has given us a bit of room to be this slow and still operate.”

In August, the NWT Chamber of Commerce recognized our business community’s resiliency through the Covid Ingenuity Award. The accolade wound up going to Air Tindi, which saw bookings grind to a halt on its regular routes. The airline’s management went back to the drawing board and drew up staycation packages. Air Tindi also began a free grocery delivery program to communities. Chris Reynolds, Air Tindi’s president, acknowledged that his company was “in survival mode” when Covid struck. 

“We made sure the airline survived and kept our staff working. The border was closed but we tried to figure out how we could help our community and that’s where the staycation idea came in and the grocery assistance,” said Reynolds.

That sort of moxie has to be admired. 

Entrepreneurs are already a different breed. Even in normal times, they’re willing to take significant risk, walking a tightrope while trying to fend off all sorts of obstacles. The pandemic was, unfortunately, crippling for some and could have been for others, if they didn’t fight for what little ground they could gain back.  

Many Yellowknifers have been generous. At the Racquet Club, some customers paid for membership renewal even while the facility was closed.  

“That just shows us what great members we have, even through the hard times, and it kept us positive,” said acting manager Devin Madsen.

So we wish all these innovative businesses well.

More importantly, we will invest some of our disposable income in their products and services, because while “we’re all in this together” might be cliche, it truly applies in the North.

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