Reporter’s View: Signs of life in Hope’s hub for local independent business

After a relatively desolate few weeks, signs of life are popping up along Wallace Street – Hope’s hub for small independent business.

Throughout the pandemic, two promising words have remained on a lettered sign above the entrance to the Hope Cinema on Wallace – “reopening soon.” As B.C. transitions into recovery mode, that ‘soon’ is becoming ‘now’ for many local businesses.

While the historic cinema won’t show films until July, moviegoers who’ve been watching flicks on the couch can now pick up some freshly buttered popcorn from the cinema – May 23 from 6 to 8 p.m. is your next chance.

Hair salons and other personal service businesses on and off the main drag are also starting to open, planning for how to practise their very close and intimate trade while keeping themselves and their clients safe.

Wallace Street’s independent coffee shops – the Blue Moose Coffee House and Hope Mountain Cafe, as well as neighbouring Sharron’s Deli – are re-opening to take-out only for the time being.

And while there may be plexi-glass barriers erected, arrows and ‘physical distancing’ stickers on the floor and a lot of sanitizing going on, these businesses are still owned, run and staffed by your neighbours.

Not to mention those who have remained open throughout the pandemic, providing essential services to locals who’ve been confined to their homes and community during the height of B.C.’s response to the pandemic.

The diligence of the still-open businesses in following health guidelines was remarked on by Hope’s mayor, as a Fraser Health check of 65 establishments revealed all were in compliance during the height of the pandemic response.

A lot of Lysol, sweat and likely a few tears were involved in keeping grocery stores, pharmacies, the local health food store, outdoor store, bakery and others open during a month of immense changes in regulations, an evolving understanding of the coronavirus and shifts in individual behaviour.

Virtually no business in Hope and area has remained unaffected by the economic shutdown that resulted from federally and provincially-imposed life-saving, curve-flattening measures. Of businesses surveyed, AdvantageHOPE found 75 per cent had a reduction in revenue. While some businesses remained open, public fear around the coronavirus also affected how many dared venture into their establishments.

Read more: Call out for local committee members, to help Hope’s economy recover from COVID-19

Now, as Hope and area businesses are revving up again, whether they will be able to survive depends on how much support they get from locals.

And there will be growing pains. Businesses will be learning to adhere to new rules that will likely go through a few iterations before they become cemented. As with everything about the coronavirus pandemic, it will likely evolve through trial and error. Customers will also have to do their part by staying home if they are unwell, keeping their distance from others, and what is likely the most effective in limiting the spread of the virus – washing their hands.

During this time of change, it’s important to remember that while it may be more convenient to order something online as you’ve likely been doing while stuck indoors, the money you put into your local business community actually goes to local people. And they in turn can afford to stay in this community that they call home.

To the business community: please let us know what you’re business hours are and how you are keeping staff and customers safe at this time. Email and we’ll add you to our expanding online business listing.

COVID-19 business listing: Hope and area

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Owners of Hope Mountain Cafe on 3 Avenue and Wallace Street Jennifer Lee, left and Peter Jung are taking a cautious approach to re-opening, starting with take-out only. Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard

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