Smoky area businesses persevering

Sammy’s Steak and Pizza in Falher is doing strong business, owner Mohammad Butt says. Falher IDA Pharmacy is picking up business, owner Barb Gardecki says.

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Small businesses in the Falher and McLennan area continue to persevere as the coronavirus pandemic enters its eighth month.

Many stores that were hard hit by the lockdown when the pandemic started in mid-March are now rebounding.

Falher IDA Pharmacy and McLennan IDA Pharmacy owner Barb Gardecki says COVID has hurt retail business at both stores.

“COVID-19 has definitely had an impact on the business,” Gardecki says.

“Retail sales of non-medical items have dropped off significantly.

“Purchasing gifts and non-essential items is of less importance to our customers.”

However, the pharmacy remains busy.

“The dispensary has maintained a very steady pace from the very beginning,” Gar- decki says.

“We did not have any slowdown.”

Online buying for the store and online shopping is also growing during the pandemic.

“It appears like it is getting back to business at the moment, but the majority of the purchasing is being done online and virtual shows,” Gardecki says.

“Retail marketing online will need to grow to keep pace with the times.”

She says she expects more of the same for the Christmas season.

“Agriculture in some areas of the Smoky River region was not great this year,” Gar- decki says.

“This will impact the non-essential shopping as well.

“It is hard to say, since we will have fewer snowbirds leaving the area.

“I don’t expect Christmas shopping to be huge, but hopefully will be steady.”

Red Apple store in Falher is picking up business.

“It’s pretty steady now,” store manager Michelle Dovell says.

“Once the number of [COVID-19] cases in the region went down recovered and was under control, people said it was back to normal.”

She notices more local people in the store.

“People are staying closer to home and shopping more at local businesses,” Dovell says.

“A lot of people say it’s also good that we don’t have to wear face masks like we have to do is store in other large communities.

“Nobody wants to put on a mask when they shop.”

She also trusts the trends to shop local will continue.

“We hope a lot of people shop in local stores for Christmas and winter shopping,” Dovell says.

She notes shopping for back to school dropped from previous years.

“Back-to-school shopping was not as big because a lot of families are keeping their children at home because of COVID.”

McLennan Home Hardware owner Bruce Brulotte says business hasn’t been hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve been fairly busy all the time,” Brulotte says.

“It’s been pretty much business as usual.”

As people stay closer to home, they are using that time to upgrade their homes, he says.

“The renovation market has really grown in the pandemic,” Brulotte says.

“People are staying home and finding projects.

“People aren’t travelling as much and they’re spending that travel money and extra time on their homes.”

He says he continues to see shoppers from the region.

“The whole Smoky River region is coming together,” says Brulotte, who has owned the business for 28 years.

Sammy’s Steak and Pizza in Falher is doing a strong business despite a limited number of tables in the restaurant.

“It’s been pretty good business in the last few months,” says owner Mohammad Butt.

“It’s actually busier than normal.”

He says the majority of business is for take-out.

“It’s not as busy for our servers for those dining inside, but our cooks are busier with take-out,” Butt says.

After the worldwide pandemic was declared March 12, Sammy’s was closed from March 28 to April 20.

“It was slow at the start with the lockdown and the local outbreak,” Butt says.

Sammy’s was “crazy busy” the first week after the business opened, then-manager Majid Riaz said in a story May 6 in the South Peace News.

Original Pete’s Confectionery in Falher remains popular.

“It’s been pretty busy the last few months,” owner Amber Dufresne says.

“It was quite a bit slower at first, but now it’s back to normal.

We have our regular customers.”

Business is building at McLennan Home Hardware even through the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, owner Bruce Brulotte says.

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