By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: Jan. 12, 2013
We all catch the infectious bug of pessimism when a small business closes.
We feel for the owner even as we admire their courage for holding out so long.
Then we blame our poor economy.
But even as some business close down, there are others who are taking a leap of faith, and expanding.
Some despite the economy; others because of it. And there are yet others who have expanded in the past, confident in the town’s future.
Steve Klassen from Bean Around the World in Brackendale, is adding more square footage, seats, and possibly more staff to his coffee shop.
In the North Yards, Newport Auto is investing $300,000 in the business, buying another bay, installing expensive mechanical equipment, and looking for trained professionals for good paying jobs.
In the next few months, Steve Klassen from Bean Brackendale and his landlord will add 150 sq-feet more to the coffee shop.
Steve Klassen admits a slow economy might have even helped his business.
With the sagging economy, more people pinched their pennies on high-end restaurant meals, but didn’t think twice about spending on a soup or a coffee.
The expansion will increase his rent, but it’s needed.
“Sure, there is bit of a risk involved, but I have had customers who leave because all the seats are taken,” he said.
Klassen has noticed another shift this year: More people spending money.
“I’m quite optimistic about the future,” he says.
So is Noel Koehn of Newport Auto.
Taking a third mortgage on his business, Noel managed to buy a vacant shop next door.
It’s a $300,000 investment to buy, and build a fully serviceable bay.
He is confident they will come, but his hunch is rooted in realism, not emotion.
Noel took advantage of a slow real estate market, but he also knows new car prices are bound to increase.
That means more people will spend on maintaining their current car than buying a new car.
Plus, he sees new development happening in Britannia Beach and hopefully, Oceanfront and GAS.
Some of it will trickle down to him in car maintenance.
Once again, a slow economy ended up helping business owners like Noel.
A slowdown meant more people wanted their car repaired, instead of buying a brand new car.
Above all, he is optimistic about the town’s future.
“Yes, it’s a risk, but I wouldn’t have taken this risk if I didn’t feel confident in our future,” he says.
When Valhalla Pure expanded last year, the state of the economy – both locally and globally – caused the owner, Murray Sovereign, some worry, but he still went ahead.
“It’s always a bit of a gamble, but I was fairly confident the timing was right,” says Sovereign.
There are some growing pains, but he is confident he would be on a more solid ground when next year rolls by.
Was the expansion worth the investment?
His answer: ‘Without question’.