Regina salon owner calls for more COVID-19 support for small businesses: ‘We want assurances’

A Regina salon owner says the financial aids announced by the federal government Wednesday aren’t enough to support small businesses like hers.

“We totally support the social distancing,” said The Make-up and Style Lounger owner Clara Edvi. Edvi made the difficult decision to temporarily close her doors Thursday.

“We want our community to stay safe, but we want assurances.”

On Wednesday the federal government announced an $82-billion stimulus package in response to the outbreak. The package includes employee wage subsidies, expanded EI and tax deferrals.

The government also announced increased access to credit last week.

But Edvi says those offerings won’t go far enough to help businesses like hers.

“If you’re newer, you’re not paying yourself as it is. You’re reinvesting into your business, so EI really doesn’t do anything for us. And the loans they’re offering are just gonna further us into debt,” Edvi explained. 

She also said some of the stylists who work out of her salon aren’t actually her employees. She rents out her chairs to freelancers, for whom she also worries.

“We have a lot of fellow small-business owners. They’re not getting relief, things announced by government don’t cover freelancers.”

She said that what she would most like to see is a suspension of rents, mortgages and utility bills and some kind of grant program that can be accessed by small businesses, landlords and utility companies to help cover respective costs.

“I know a lot of fellow business owners who haven’t slept in days. We’re extremely stressed because we just don’t know what our next step is going to be. Some of us won’t be able to re-open our doors. “

She worries that if such action is not taken, the effects of closing her business will be felt beyond its walls.

“It’s the whole trickle-down effect,” she said. “We don’t want to have to worry whether or not we’re gonna be here, whether or not were gonna be able to pay our mortgages at home, our car payments, or feed our families.”

Edvi said she’s reached out to her property manager about rent payments but hasn’t heard back.

Global News received the following statement from Colliers Canada Saskatchewan Real Estate Management Services Managing Director Alex Hanson.

“We understand this is an incredibly challenging time for many of our tenants and owners and we’re working on a case-by-case basis to best assist all parties,” the statement reads.

“Colliers does not own any of the assets under management and will be working with our clients, who own the properties, and our tenants, to find a solution to these types of requests. We will consult with the owner of the asset and reach out to the tenant directly.”

The City of Regina, meanwhile, has plans to discuss delaying utility bills and property taxes Friday.

“Small business is so vital in our cities, in our towns, so I’m putting my faith into the government and so I hope they listen to us and get in touch with what’s going on here and they do the right thing and do something for us,” said Edvi. 

While their doors are closed and main services suspended, Edvi says the Make-up and Style Lounge will still offer its “Pick and Pull” program as a way to generate some business amid the pandemic. Customers can pre-pay for beauty products which staff can ship or even run out to a client’s vehicle

Edvi says she’s reached out to the federal and provincial government officials with her concerns. She’s even started a petition, titled #SOSSMALLBUSINESS, to help campaign for relief. She says she thinks the government has “kind of lost touch with small businesses”.

“Small business is so vital in our cities, in our towns, so I’m putting my faith into the government and so I hope they listen to us and get in touch with what’s going on here and they do the right thing and do something for us,” said Edvi. 

But for now, she’ll have to wait and see if that distress signal is answered from behind closed doors.

“We’re saying lots of little prayers right now. We’re trying to stay very hopeful.” 

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