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

A pinniped was attacked by an unseen predator off the shores of Dallas Road Monday night. (Courtesy of Steffani Cameron)
VIDEO: Seal hunting a fish off Dallas Road sparks social media debate

Victoria woman captures footage of pinniped activity off Dallas Road

West Shore RCMP are looking for a suspect and their mini van, which crashed into a parked vehicle and home along the 200-block of Island Highway in View Royal on Jan. 18. (Black Press Media file photo)
Driver crashes into parked car and home in View Royal, speeds away: RCMP

Incident took place near 200-block of Island Highway Monday night

In January, six flights with cases of COVID-19 onboard have landed at the Victoria International Airport so far. (Black Press Media file photo)
Two new COVID-19 exposures reported on flights to Victoria

A Jan. 10 flight from Toronto and Jan. 11 flight from Calgary were affected

Firefighters respond to a fire on Heatherly Road in Colwood Jan. 19. (Photo courtesy of View Royal Fire Rescue)
Two people escape injury in Colwood house fire

Heatherly Road fire started on a covered porch

December and January, so far, have seen their share of rain. (Black Press Media file photo)
Potential for snow in Greater Victoria after unusually wet December, January

Winter is on the way, says Environment and Climate Change Canada

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout for delivery slowdown

Daily cases decline over weekend, 31 more deaths

(Black Press Media file photo)
From arts to environment, nominate your West Shore hero

Nominations for the Goldstream Gazette’s Local Hero awards are open

Nanaimo RCMP are investigating after a threat was made at Woodgrove Centre on Tuesday, Jan. 19. (News Bulletin file photo)
Threat directed at Nanaimo mall, RCMP investigating

Police have searched areas of Woodgrove Centre accessible to shoppers and have deemed it safe

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau vows to keep up the fight to sway U.S. on merits of Keystone XL pipeline

Canada’s pitch to the Biden team has framed Keystone XL as a more environmentally friendly project than original

The British Columbia Hotel Association (BCHA) sent out a sharply worded release late last week, in which it noted that the Tourism Industry Association of BC recently obtained a ‘legal opinion’ on the matter (Alex Passini photo)
Hotel associations push back against any potential ban on inter-provincial, non-essential travel restrictions

B.C. Premier John Horgan is seeking legal advice on banning non-essential travel

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
COVID rapid tests in long-term care key during vaccine rollout: B.C. care providers

‘Getting kits into the hands of care providers should be a top priority,’ says former Health Minister

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. turns to second doses of COVID-19 vaccine as supplies slow

Pfizer shipments down until February, to be made up in March

B.C.’s Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training announced funding to train community mental health workers at four B.C. post-secondary institutions. (Stock photo)
B.C. funding training of mental health workers at four post-secondary institutions

Provincial government says pandemic has intensified need for mental health supports

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
No Pfizer vaccines arriving in Canada next week; feds still expect 4M doses by end of March

More cases of U.K. variant, South African variant found in Canada

Most Read