March 16, 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
THINK LOCAL, BUY LOCAL AND SUPPORT DOWNTOWN BUSINESSES
The Downtown Winnipeg BIZ is encouraging Winnipeggers to support local downtown businesses as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves.
“Many downtown stores and restaurants are independent or family-owned, and a drop in business poses a real threat to their livelihood,” said Downtown Winnipeg BIZ CEO Kate Fenske. “During this time of adjustment, we encourage Winnipeggers to continue supporting downtown businesses and other local retailers, while following all Manitoba Public Health guidelines. Shopping local matters more than ever.”
Winnipeggers are able to support local restaurants and retailers during the pandemic, even when they are unable to visit downtown businesses in person:
- Make local retailers the first choice for needed supplies;
- Shop and order online or via phone;
- Order takeout or delivery from downtown restaurants and tip the same amount as you would dining in;
- Purchase gift cards to spend later.
Fenske said supporting downtown businesses and other local retailers is an important way for Winnipeggers to show community support during a time of continued uncertainty.
Fenske noted downtown businesses face increased challenges compared to big box retailers and other commercial areas outside the core. This pandemic adds increased pressure and also highlights the need for city policies that don’t unfairly impact downtown businesses. A business-led proposal to make downtown parking more equitable is currently before city council, which Fenske will speak to during budget delegations this week.
“There are very real barriers to parking downtown – namely the cost of a parking space – that negatively impact businesses in our downtown and the Exchange District,” Fenske said, noting that the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ is requesting council reduce the current hourly rate by at least 50 cents to ensure downtown retailers aren’t further penalized at a time the well-being of local businesses is already threatened.
“Downtown businesses are already facing the prospect of a major drop in income as office workers are encouraged to work from home,” Fenske said. “It’s time city council show support for downtown businesses by reducing the hourly parking rate and committing to a city parking strategy before the end of the year.”
The Downtown Winnipeg BIZ noted the importance of all citizens continuing to follow guidance from Manitoba Public Health as the COVID-19 response continues to evolve.
Tineke Buiskool-Leeuwma, Director of Marketing, Events & Communications