Things truly took a turn when Ontario declared a state of emergency recently due to the spread of COVID-19. From reduced services, closures, to lay-offs, people across the province have been impacted in one way or another. For small businesses that are new to Ottawa’s business scene, their plans to grow have been halted.
These are indeed tough and unprecedented times for people across the globe, but changes must be made. Local Ottawa businesses are finding ways to adjust during the pandemic to keep themselves, their staff, and locals supported to the best of their abilities.
Head Office Ottawa, a local collaborative office space that opened in Nov. 2018 has had to make a handful of changes due to COVID-19. The space also includes a bistro and commercial kitchen.
Head Office is home to twelve other local businesses who are members and use the office space daily. But now, the public is no longer allowed to use the space.
“We are closed to the public but remain open to members who have asked for continued access,” said Trevor Clark, CEO of Head Office Ottawa. “Being a new business still with a large overhead, we’d like to continue growing and expanding during this time.”
Although Head Office Ottawa’s recurring members can use the office units within the space, the company has canceled the renting of boardrooms, presentation, and event spaces to the public until the end of April.
Luckily, the staff of Head Office are at home and continue to be paid, but there is still a great deal of uncertainty for the future.
“They are really great and what affects the business of course affects them and their families,” said Clark about his staff. “[However], the bistro staff has been laid off [temporarily].
Fortunately, for Head Office, their membership base allows them to remain steady during the pandemic. But, Fairytale Princess Parties — an Ottawa business that launched in 2015 — has had to halt almost all of their business activities since they are a mobile company.
Considering the company sends princess characters to parties and events for children, they have had to postpone their parties and are only sending staff to small gatherings, if there are any.
“We have had very few parties booked during the last month, and so our sales are very low at this time,” said Mary-Jean Harris, owner of Fairytale Princess Parties. “The staff have been doing very few parties lately and so are not making much — if any — income from us.”
For children who have had their parties cancelled and to keep the spirits high, Fairytale Princess Parties is doing Facebook live streams with the princess characters to keep children entertained or just cheer them up.
“We hope that there will be more interest in the one-on-one videos to help make up for the large cuts in our revenue,” said Harris.
Despite the difficulties, the two local businesses are trying to be optimistic and productive during this time. “We will be able to spring back to our usual parties and events once the virus situation is resolved and keep making more magic,” said Harris.
Some businesses with a low overhead or savings may be able to survive this rough patch, but other businesses that are fairly new and have large overheads and high debt are facing difficulties according to the Ottawa Citizen about the impact of COVID-19 on small busineses in the National Capital Region.