Creative Spirit Of Entrepreneurs In Lethbridge Remains Alive & Well
LETHBRIDGE-despite the challenging business climate in 2020 due to the persistent covid-19 pandemic, the creative spirit of Lethbridge’s entrepreneurs is still alive.
Monroe Salon Studios opened in the city on October 15, with many businesses outside the spaces inside, much like a shopping mall.
Monroe CEO and owner Tanya Kellington says she understands the provincial government is trying to protect people, but by not supporting new startups like hers, they have created a major challenge for businesses.
Even if the 15% capacity rules are respected inside the building and appropriate safety protocols are implemented, this has been difficult, as the new restrictions affect hair and nail salons and spas.
This challenging business climate has prompted Kellington to make decisions that have a significant impact on other Lethbridge businesses.
“The way we’re looking at it is that businesses are retailing, gift cards, they’re picking up curbs and for businesses that are closed, I’m giving them free rent,” Kellington continued. “We hope we can continue without this support from the state, which is very unfair and see how we can support ourselves and the community.”
Monroe also opened stores for free to allow affected businesses to sell their products before Christmas.
“We have a few spaces, beautiful spaces here, and we’re offering free pop-ups (spaces) to businesses whose markets have been closed, because if we have that space, we’re helping our community,” Kellington said.
For tenants inside the building, community support has been strong in these difficult times, as many in Lethbridge appear to be behind local support.
“The support from the community, our guests and Monroe himself was amazing. Tanya offered free rent to everyone in the building during this time, so we feel very supported by her, ” said Elizabeth Benn, one of the co-owners of Rebel Salon YQL.
“I think the best thing people can do to support local small businesses right now is buy retail, buy gift cards and book once we’re open,” explained fellow co-owner Shaelene Ascione.
“It’s kind of the most important thing, as well as sharing our social media and telling your friends.”
One of the main fears people have at this time is of course safety, but Monroe’s layout is such that those working inside don’t think anyone should worry.
“If you look at something like this, we are a small studio and we have maybe four to five people here. We’ve really been able to limit the amount of contact here and the people here, it’s very different to say a great full service salon, ” Ascione said.
Benn says that when they opened Alberta Health Services, they considered them a very low risk because of the low foot traffic in and around their space.
Kellington believes that if you put it right, it comes. She believes you can navigate during this period, even though she has been advised by business advisers not to do what she does.
“My belly was saying something else and I feel at peace with that. And you know what, it will be what it will be and we will be there in the end. I know we’re going to get through this.”
Kellington says he has contacted both premier Jason Kenney and finance minister Travis Toews in recent weeks for answers about the arrival of additional support, but has yet to hear from them.