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Local businesses adapting to new reality

It’s been nearly three weeks since all non-essential businesses across Alberta were ordered to close, and owners in Grande Prairie continue to come up with new ways to keep service levels as normal as possible.

Turbo Delivery owner Fisnik Veliu says while he remains open and busy, he believes the true success of his business is his ability to promote the work of others in a more delicate situation.

“I try to push as many of the restaurants, businesses, convenience stores as much as possible. I am still doing my stuff, but a lot of my time is also dedicated to going on Facebook, going from restaurant to restaurant, and business to business and try to promote them as well.”

Lance Warkentin, owner and operator of three Jeffrey’s Cafe locations in the city, says when it came to changing the business model of a traditional walk-up cafe, he looked to his grandmothers for inspiration. One is 97-years-old and the other one in her 80s, and when he thought of them, he says it helped answer a very important question.

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“What can we do to show that we love to care for them, and pass a little bit of that along?”

After shuttering walk-up service in the four Jeffrey’s locations across the city to change to a primarily delivery based service, Warkentin says he knows a lot of families can’t afford to continuously have food delivered, and says they’re looking at ways of bridging the gap.

“Trying to get a little bit more information out there into people’s hands as to how to build good family meals of their own. We’ve started putting our recipes online, trying to do a few Facebook videos on how to do that stuff at home”

Grande Prairie Mayor Bill Given says the entrepreneurial spirit of Grande Prairie never ceases to amaze him, He notes special consideration and thought must go out to those who are unable to drastically change service models.

“Not every business can adapt. The type of business they’re in, particularly personal services and others, don’t usually lend themselves to adapting to this new reality.”

Stuart Goulet of Clay and Cupcakes, a walk-in, paint-your-own-pottery store, says there are a lot of extra steps in getting the finished product to customers these days, but they are doing their best to make it accessible to everyone.

“We offer curbside pickup and free delivery anywhere in the Grande Prairie city limits. A lot of people taking advantage of that. They just order online, or on Facebook, and we sent it to their house. They bring it back and kiln it.”

Goulet adds that hardships aren’t new to residents and businesses in Grande Prairie, but he hopes once all the dust has settled, the community can come back stronger than ever in the end.

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