Joanne Arnold, owner of Soulful Sister Aromatherapy, appreciates the way more people in the community are supporting local businesses by shopping locally. (Rick Stiebel/News Staff)

Joanne Arnold, owner of Soulful Sister Aromatherapy, appreciates the way more people in the community are supporting local businesses by shopping locally. (Rick Stiebel/News Staff)

The ups and downs of business on the West Shore this COVID Christmas

More people staying home helps some local shops

The West Shore Chamber of Commerce and local businesses herald the support the community is providing this holiday in making an effort to shop local during the pandemic.

Julie Lawlor, executive director of the WestShore Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber is appreciative of local support.

“Local businesses make up the fabric of our community,” said Lawlor, who begins her sixth year with the organization in January. “It’s our local businesses who do so much to support the community through funds and donations in kind to local non-profits and charities. The creativity and resilience local business owners have shown in such a short period of time is really impressive. The chamber would like to thank our members for supporting our work during these challenging times. We have a wealth of resources available and welcome any business owner to get in touch with us.”

Visit westshore.bc.ca for more information, or call 250-478-1130.

The Cloth Castle in Langford is weathering the storm by inspiring a wave of newcomers to the art of needles and thread.

READ ALSO: Pace of job gains slows to 62,000 in November, Statistics Canada says

“We’ve found that more people have gone back to their hobbies because they’re spending more time at home,” said manager, Maria Porter, daughter of the original owner Sylvia Ratcliffe, who launched the business more than 50 years ago.

“There’s a higher demand for classes than we expected, so we have restructured our classes to follow COVID protocols and health guidelines,” said floor manager Natasha Cloutier.

The demand for material for masks and inquiries on how to make them in March and April helped business as well.

“We’ve come up with new kits with easy projects for gifts for Christmas,” Porter said. “There’s a lot of new sewers and kids learning to sew out there. We’ve seen a lot of young entrepreneurs as well, school-age kids starting businesses that revolve around fabrics. We want to inspire the next generation of sewers, so that’s really neat to see.”

While it’s important any time to support local businesses, people are taking the time to come in to discuss the best way to achieve what they want to do instead of just ordering online, Cloutier said.

Although The Cloth Castle has curbside pickup and mail order available for those that prefer that, Porter said most people still prefer to come into the store. For more on classes and products, weave your way over to clothcastle.com.

The stress caused by COVID-19 has more people seeking solace through more natural means, and that’s led to quite an increase in people looking for essential oils, said Joanne Arnold, the owner of Soulful Sister Aromatherapy. “A big part of that is many people are home more and they’re looking for natural ways to relieve their stress,” said Arnold, who operated out of her Colwood home for more than 10 years before opening her store in Langford three years ago.

READ ALSO: B.C. tourism relief coming soon, Premier John Horgan says

The pandemic has also impacted her business in negative ways.

“I normally sell to about 100 other stores across Canada and that’s down by two thirds,” she said. “A lot of gift stores have closed or are really struggling. I usually travel across Canada at this time of the year doing about six major craft shows, but they’ve all been cancelled because of COVID. I’m super fortunate to have a retail store to sell our products from. I’ve been selling online for 10 years, and that’s gotten better since COVID. More people are definitely shopping online.”

As someone who’s been part of the community for 20 years, Arnold understands the important role shopping locally plays in keeping small businesses afloat.

“There’s been an amazing response,” she said. “Many people come in and say they want to shop local and support local businesses.”

Arnold is pleased to pass that support along that along this year by donating 15 per cent of her profits for a week in December to the Goldstream Food Bank.

For a look at the products, visit soulfulsister.com.

rick.stiebel@goldstreamgazette.com

Coronavirus

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

 

Natasha Cloutier, Maria Porter, and Bonnie Harper say more people are coming into the Cloth Castle during COVID-19 to learn how to say or make quilts. (Rick Stiebel/News Staff)

Julie Lawlor, executive director of the West Shore Chamber of Commerce, said the resilience shown by local business owners duringthe pandemic has been impressive. (Courtesy West Shore Chamber of Commerce)

Julie Lawlor, executive director of the West Shore Chamber of Commerce, said the resilience shown by local business owners duringthe pandemic has been impressive. (Courtesy West Shore Chamber of Commerce)

Joanne Arnold, owner of Soulful Sister Aromatherapy, appreciates the way more people in the community are supporting local businesses by shopping locally. (Rick Stiebel/News Staff)

Just Posted

Gwen Spencer Hethey is one of four athletes being inducted into the Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame this year. Here, she is pictured with her mentor Major Frederick Richardson. (Courtesy of Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame)
Four new names added to Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame

Matt Pettinger, Gwen Spencer Hethey, Peter Lawless and Roger Skillings being inducted

The District of Saanich is accepting nominations for the 2021 Environmental Awards until June 1 at 4 p.m. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Nominations now open for Saanich’s 21st annual Environmental Awards

Awards recognize individuals and organizations making Saanich more sustainable

Rotary Club of Victoria-Harbourside president Angus Macpherson visited the Wear2Start Society boutique in Victoria to present a cheque to the society’s vice-president Alessandra Ringstad (left) and president Angela Mangiacasale. (Courtesy of Wear2Start)
Rotary club donates over $11,000 to Greater Victoria non-profit for women

Wear2Start Society provides clothing for women in need

Adrienne Rogers (LPN) and Tracy McConnell (RN) on the Victoria Hospice Unit. (Photo courtesy of Victoria Hospice)
Victoria Hospice bereavement counsellors dealing with a tsunami of grief

Last year, Victoria Hospice provided end-of-life care to more than 1,000 people

Paddles sit stacked and ready at a rowing regatta on Elk Lake in 2018. (Black Press Media file photo)
Greater Victoria junior girls rowing team nabs first in national Row to Tokyo challenge

Young Victoria City Rowing Club members row more than 2,250 km

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

RCMP are looking for information on an alleged shooting attempt near an elementary school in Smithers March 10. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News/Stock)
UPDATE: Man killed in brazen daylight shooting at Vancouver airport

Details about the police incident are still unknown

Pieces of nephrite jade are shown at a mine site in northwestern B.C. in July 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Tahltan Central Government MANDATORY CREDIT
Indigenous nation opposes jade mining in northwestern B.C.

B.C.’s Mines Act requires operators to prepare a plan to protect cultural heritage resources

The body of Brenda Ware, 35, was found along Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park on Thursday, May 6, 2021. (RCMP handout)
RCMP ask for tips after woman’s body found in Kootenay National Park

Brenda Ware was found along Highway 93 in the park, 54 kilometres north of the town of Radium

People pass the red hearts on the COVID-19 Memorial Wall mourning those who have died, opposite the Houses of Parliament on the Embankment in London, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. On May 3, the British government announced that only one person had died of COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kirsty Wigglesworth
For a view of a COVID-19 future, Canadians should look across the pond

Britain, like Canada, is one of the only countries in the world to delay second doses for several months

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

Most Read