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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kent Harrison Search and Rescue brought a man to safety, and awaiting paramedics, after a 20-foot fall down an embankment on Jan. 23, 2020, on Harrison West Forest Service Road. (Kent Harrison Search and Rescue photo)
Rescue crew lifts man up 20-foot embankment near Harrison Lake

Kent Harrison Search and Rescue says this is the fifth call already this year

A mallard duck swims through Salish Pond in Chilliwack on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
WEATHER: Snow, rain in forecast for Fraser Valley

Fraser Valley has been treated to more than a week of mostly sunny weather, but it’s about to end

sd
VIDEO: Mission drag racer scores 1st career win, sets world record, makes history in 2020

Justin Bond, founder and owner of JBS Equipment, hits milestones in break-out year

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. (Graeme Roy/The Canadian Press)
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of Jan. 24

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Adam Louis/Hope Standard
One Week at a Time: My doors will be open

Reporter Adam Louis introduces himself to Hope and the surrounding communities

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

A woman injects herself with crack cocaine at a supervised consumption site Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Drug users at greater risk of dying as services scale back in second wave of COVID-19

It pins the blame largely on a lack of supports, a corrupted drug supply

Wet’suwet’en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

The 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline was approved by B.C. and 20 elected First Nations councils on its path

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

From the left: Midway RCMP Csts. Jonathan Stermscheg and Chris Hansen, Public Servant Leanne Mclaren and Cpl. Phil Peters. Pictured in the front are Mclaren’s dog, Lincoln and Peters’ dog, Angel. Photo courtesy of BC RCMP
B.C. Mounties commended for bringing firewood to elderly woman

Cpl. Phil Peters said he and detachment members acted after the woman’s husband went to hospital

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

An Uber driver’s vehicle is seen after the company launched service, in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. Several taxi companies have lost a court bid to run Uber and Lyft off the road in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Taxi companies lose court bid to quash Uber, Lyft approvals in British Columbia

Uber said in a statement that the ruling of the justice is clear and speaks for itself

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

Most Read