Business owners Cory Pelan of The Whole Beast and Martin Cownden of Chef on the Run, pictured ahead of the 2019 Spring Nosh, run two of the businesses that are able to retain their staff during the ongoing pandemic crisis which has hurt many other businesses. (Black Press Media File Photo)

Business is not as usual in Oak Bay

Spring Nosh event unlikely says Business Improvement Association

With mixed feelings, the president of the Oak Bay Business Improvement Association talks about his hope that the businesses of the Oak Bay Village survive this pandemic.

Martin Cownden runs Chef on the Run which already had a customer base of older adults that appreciated the store’s premade meals. Turns out premade meals are exactly what people are looking for, including Chef on the Run’s regular customers, during the social shutdown underway to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

READ ALSO: Oak Bay businesses cope as best they can during COVID-19 crisis

“For us, it’s tough, there’s more business out there and we want to help more people but the solution for our store is not to chase new business, it’s to retain the staff we have and best serve our customers,” Cownden said.

As it stands, this year’s Spring Nosh is unlikely though the Business Improvement Association is hoping to possibly reschedule it for the summer. The association’s members include all storefronts along the Oak Bay section of the Avenue.

At the same time, Cownden can’t help but have a heavy heart as he sees other businesses in Oak Bay Village struggling.

“There is hope, people need to be reminded that there is hope that we’ll get through this,” Cownden said. “I wish I could say it’s business as usual.”

To keep residents up to date on the situation for each Oak Bay business Heather Leary, of the Oak Bay Business Improvement Association, created a list of each business’ status. She updates it at least every two days.

For example, Bosley’s is open but it’s best to call ahead so that staff can prepare the order in time for pickup.

“One of the hard things is that not everyone understands what we’re going through,” Cownden said. “We have one man who is a regular. He wants to come in as he always has, and doesn’t understand why he can’t. He also doesn’t have a non-touch payment method.”

Eventually, Cownden just asked the man what he wanted.

“He said, ‘four chicken pot pies like always,’ so I gave it to him and I said come back when you can figure out how to pay [with credit/debit].’”

READ ALSO: Another big year for Oak Bay Business Improvement Association

Cownden said he is unsure how many people realize the impact small businesses contribute in our social settings and society.

“When you think of how much money is being pumped into assistance and rescue programs, where do people think that money came from before?” Cownden said. “A lot was from small businesses.”

Right now, the circular economy is disconnected.

“There is hope this will pass we’re just in a valley of difficult times, just like we came back from the 1982 high interest rates,” Cownden said. “Don’t forget that in 1984 many of the Government Street stores were boarded up.”


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

Just Posted

Rare white orca spotted hunting off shores of Alaska for first time

Tl’uk seems healthy and strong, says researcher

Mental health challenges add to youth stress load

Part 2 in a Black Press series on Youth Homelessness

Langford bike park rolling along to completion

New park a tribute to Jordie Lunn’s legacy

Protesters showcase massive old yellow cedar as Port Renfrew area forest blockade continues

9.5-foot-wide yellow cedar measured by Ancient Forest Alliance campaigners in Fairy Creek watershed

Sooke Bluffs staircase closed due to rot

District to consider replacement for ‘high risk’ staircase in fall

VIDEO: Greater Victoria police officers try bhangra dancing with social media star

Gurdeep Pandher leads bhangra lesson on front lawn of the BC Legislature building

Captain Horvat’s OT marker lifts Canucks to 4-3 win over Blues

Vancouver takes 2-0 lead in best-of-7 NHL playoff series with St. Louis

Widow of slain Red Deer doctor thanks community for support ahead of vigil

Fellow doctors, members of the public will gather for a physically-distanced vigil in central Alberta

Taking dog feces and a jackhammer to neighbourhood dispute costs B.C. man $16,000

‘Pellegrin’s actions were motivated by malice …a vindictive, pointless, dangerous and unlawful act’

Racist stickers at Keremeos pub leaves group uneasy and angry

The ‘OK’ hand gesture is a known hate-symbol

VIDEO: World responds to B.C. girl after pandemic cancels birthday party

Dozens of cards and numerous packages were delivered to six-year-old Charlie Manning

Expected fall peak of COVID-19 in Canada could overwhelm health systems: Tam

National modelling projections released Friday show an expected peak in cases this fall

Hundreds of sea lions to be killed on Columbia River in effort to save endangered fish

Nearly 22,000 comments received during public review were opposed, fewer than 200 were for

Most Read