DBIA Members meet to Strategize

The Downtown Business Improvement Area (DBIA) had a virtual meeting today to talk about how they could come together to get through the Covid-19 crisis.  Chaired by Adam Bureau, the meeting with as many as 33 participants lasted 75 minutes and covered a range of topics.  Police Chief Paul VandeGraaf reported that one officer was isolated at the Breakers  – perhaps that was what prompted the move to get the isolation trailers setup (see article – link below).  He also said that Police were patrolling downtown at night and noted that there had not been any increase in downtown break-ins.  Adam said that some stores were open for business – one example was Theresa Rickerby’s stores accepting phone, email, Facebook and Instagram orders.  She employs 3 drivers for deliveries.

DBIA meeting April 17
DBIA meeting April 17

Steve Wilkes was on the call and pointed to his Durham based business “Better Go Getter” which offers a delivery service.  But without knowing costs, store owners seemed wary since hiring drivers directly means lower cost which is important since many are offering free local delivery.  But this discussion pointed to the idea that a service could be setup to do deliveries for all downtown stores.  Similarly, a single web site could provide an online service to anyone who does not have their own e-commerce site (e.g. by Shopify).

It was emphasized that it is now especially important to support local vendors – if you cannot buy from them now, you can perhaps buy a gift card through the “Gift Card Portal” which has been setup on the DBIA web site here.  So far, $7,000 worth of gift cards have been purchased.

There was one suggestion that I particularly liked:  Cindy Berman suggested that all stores place a sign in their window that lets the public know what they are doing – are they open for online or phone orders and if so, how can they be reached.  They seem to be currently relying on Facebook and other social media to get the word out but that misses a good chunk of the population.

The DBIA is helping members work together to get through the crisis.  Member meetings are usually held annually but for the next while, they will be bi-weekly.

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Jones
18 April 2020 8:23 am

It’s so considerate of the town to give a 3 month
Property tax holiday to local business suffering during
This difficult business time

perplexed
Reply to  Jones
18 April 2020 9:36 am

There are lots of self employed families and businesses here in Cobourg not just the down town
or as visible as a store front they could be upstairs or around the corner stop — STOP the special treatment for King st and give them all a break They all have overheads and
and loss of income as well

shaking-my-head
Reply to  perplexed
26 April 2020 2:05 pm

hey Perplexed, is the Town giving a “tax holiday” to just King Street?

Johanne
Reply to  Jones
25 April 2020 2:37 pm

Unfortunately that may pay the bills to leave town… not the landlord. Bankers are aware of their expenses after a while. It’s hard to sustain business downtown, especially when the municipality allowed so many strip malls and convenient stores all around. Mea culpa….

Cobourg Person
Reply to  Johanne
25 April 2020 3:07 pm

The Municipality makes decisions that benefits all citizens, not just downtown businesses.

Johanne
Reply to  Cobourg Person
25 April 2020 4:14 pm

They were told in the past, by studies, they make wrong decisions as well. You paid over 100,00.00 for each dormant studies. Facts of life buddy.

Observer
17 April 2020 6:25 pm

For restaurants – how about a Blue Plate Special – weekly, bi-weekly – your zinger dish offered at a reasonable price, a little lower that has sold well or is good and economical to make – one that will bring customers back to try something further – now and in the following improved times.

Reply to  Observer
18 April 2020 8:59 am

For restaurants the real challenge is that customers want reasonable prices and the result is that the business has extremely thin margins of profit. Restaurants depend on large volumes of customers. The Pandemic has basically pulled the rug out from under them, many were barely surviving prior to the Pandemic and may not survive. Pivot to curb side service or delivery is easy to say. The owner still has a very large rent/mortgage issue to manage. Space inside the restaurant is being paid for and not utilized. At the end of the day restaurants still need large volumes of customers. With financial uncertainty, a very large minority of people stop or slow their spending, creating more adverse conditions for businesses. Cutting prices now, might make things worse.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Steve
18 April 2020 9:41 am

An additional factor is the supply chain to restaurants, the foodstuffs, the shortage of protein products as more meat processing plants close, and other challenges to supply, and if the restaurant has to pay higher prices per pound of beef, so does the customer. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/cargill-deena-hinshaw-covid-19-1.5536916

Observer
Reply to  Wally Keeler
18 April 2020 10:53 am

CTV – just had a report on that some businesses are just booming – showed happy butchers who say they are doing great business! Never been better.

perplexed
Reply to  Steve
18 April 2020 9:57 am

Restaurants are NOT the only one s they are just more visible to us and are published more
I know of auto repair and Tow truck shops that rent shops or pay Mtgs , lease or buy $100 K tow trucks , pay wages round the clock pay for Licences
They are suffering even more with far higher overheads and just as many and more highly trained employees not student waiters and part timers they have discovered they have lost 70 % of their business with out commuters on the roads
there are no accidents , vehicle breakdowns , people running out of gas , dead batteries, flat tires etc etc Electrician s. Plumbers , Realtors , Beauty salons , Gyms and fitness clubs
all have higher overheads and larger spaces
We need to recognize This is hurting everyone not just your favorite food suppliers
Besides before I start going to restaurants again I want to know all my food handlers have been tested by some official health department and are not carriers of the Virus or I will wait till its over But my Mechanic thats another story

Observer
Reply to  perplexed
18 April 2020 11:03 am

Myself I just offered suggestions for apparel and restaurants – was hoping others on the blog would offer suggestions for other types of business as I thought my post was long enough.

judith goulin
Reply to  Observer
19 April 2020 4:30 pm

My favourite downtown restaurant is A Taste of Agra. I hope they can re-open, and if so, offer a re-opening special, even for just a day or two, to celebrate the end of our COVID-19 confinement and so their faithful customers, and new ones too, can welcome them back! I understand how restaurants depend on volume to make ends meet, so I urge everyone to go there. Support our local economy by enjoying authentic Indian food,They’re a great restaurant that not only serves amazing food, but also has a friendly;hard-working staff.. GO!

Ken Strauss
Reply to  judith goulin
19 April 2020 5:06 pm

I’m curious how the recent changes in the rules for takeout food plus wine/beer are working. Do most home delivery pizza orders include beer? For many restaurants alcohol sales are 30% or more of revenue and beverages often have a better margin than the food. A loss of alcohol sales is hard to make up for with food.

Canuck Patriot
Reply to  Ken Strauss
20 April 2020 12:45 am

What I find remarkable is that it took a crisis of this magnitude for the Ontario government to finally open up our archaic liquor laws. What a novel idea. Take out meals with wine or a beer.

A nice break from all those government employees whose responsibility included overseeing that we are all behaving as socially responsible drinkers. I’ve yet to hear reports that the decision has led to an increase in alcohol abuse.

It’s 2020. Perhaps it’s finally time to modernize liquor sales in Ontario. We don’t need government run retail liquor outlets any more than we need government run grocery stores or other businesses. Beer, wine and liquor sales should be available for purchase at private retail outlets.

Johanne
Reply to  judith goulin
19 April 2020 8:53 pm

Thank you for the tip Judith! I found out local people dont spend money in sophisticated food. That’s okay… as long ad its tasty and well priced. Lèts remember Cobourg has a unique beach, and environment if protected, but is not friendly : unilingual, monocultural, no room fo high end touristic destination. It takes time and education. Now if you compare Montreal, a city where you eat divinely well, friendly, at a reasonable price, you bring free of charge your wine, and enjoy it all night long…. hard to beat ! Cobourg is not ready to transform….

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Johanne
19 April 2020 11:06 pm

Unfortunately it is now closed for the pandemic but Cucina Urbana (old Marta) has bring-your-own-wine with no corkage charge one night a week and half-price wine another night. Good food too!

Observer
17 April 2020 5:13 pm

Cobourg’s downtown presents very importantly in the perception of Cobourg. For residents and tourists alike to stroll through, purchase dine. I imagine the DBIA will be considering many good ideas such as a collective website as mentioned in the article. They will have more indepth knowledge of what is possible. I make suggestions as a townsperson and admit I don’t know all the ins and outs. 1. With increased police patrols happening perhaps it would be possible for apparel wear stores to have a window display of select outfits/shoes – hand selected. Price tags displayed, lowered prices, perhaps an online raffle for one outfit a month – if the customer wins and doesn’t want it the customer could donate the prize value to a food bank. There are write offs available in accounting – good will, business promotions be good against the reported coming tax increases for next year. Curb side pick up only – unfortunately they can’t be returned hence lowered prices. 2. Restaurants many are open – COVID-19 Menus. Offer a limited price reduced menu of select offerings. People may then try something they’ve never tried or become new customers. A business builder. All as they are now… Read more »

Johanne
Reply to  Observer
20 April 2020 8:48 am

Suggestions from experience like I mentioned, even if people dont like it, I dont care. You can’t be a thug when you are in a restaurant business, you have to like people and have knowledge of food. That is simple and too complicated for Cobourg who like to sign off for their own dinner time ! corfu is a perfect role model of great food , friendly, and he was formerly in Montreal. So there, your not special at all. You cant even have a specialty hot dog like the Montreal hot dog pool room ! Very reasonably priced, all day and night long open !