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Rossland businesses struggle to survive during COVID-19 crisis

Businesses are reporting sales declines of up to 90% due to pandemic

Rossland businesses are struggling to stay open in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis.

Richard Chobanuk, co-owner of the Legacy Gift Room and Brew Shop in Rossland, said his sales have plunged in recent weeks.

“We’ve had zero customers today, zero customers yesterday and zero customers the day before that,” said Chobanuk. “Over the last month, our sales have dropped by about 50 per cent.”

Despite that, Chobanuk said he’s retained a couple of employees at his store so far.

Chobanuk said he doesn’t think his business will survive if the COVID-19 crisis continues.

“To be honest, if we’re able to last this month that’ll be it,” said Chobanuk. “As it stands, we’re not able to pay the rent. Right now, we’re only existing because we had a good Christmas.”

Despite having a variety of merchandise for sale, Chobanuk said he’s only made three sales in the last three weeks that were non-wine related.

John Snelgrove, owner of two different Alpine Grind stores in Rossland and Trail, said he’s had to lay off many employees.

“Everything at our Rossland location has had to shut down,” said Snelgrove. “That means all my 16 staff that worked there have been laid off.”

Snelgrove said he still has two employees working in Trail.

Despite the temporary closure, Snelgrove said he’s been making and delivering pizzas at the Rossland location to help sustain his business for now.

Even with all the extra work, Snelgrove said his Rossland business has still taken a serious sales hit.

“In the last two weeks of March 2019, we did about about $38,000 to $40,000 worth of business,” said Snelgrove. “In that same timeframe in 2020, we did just $5,100 in business.”

That’s an almost 90 per cent loss in sales year-over-year.

Snelgrove said his pizza sales are the only things allowing him to pay his utilities, rent, insurance and other costs.

Snelgrove said he hasn’t paid himself for over a month to help support the business.

To keep his house up and running, Snelgrove said he’s also applied for an emergency relief benefit with the Canadian government during the COVID-19 crisis.

The Rossland Seniors Centre, city hall and the Rossland Public Library are other facilities that have temporarily shut down due to COVID-19.

READ MORE: First case of COVID-19 confirmed in Invermere


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