Good summer once it started, business owners say
By Chad Ingram
The summer of 2019 was good for business in Minden, once summer arrived, business owners are saying.
“It was a good summer once it got going,” Stedman’s V&S owner John Thomas told the Times. “It was so slow to get going because we had the flood and the state of emergency.”
During a cool spring, flooding led the Township of Minden Hills to declare a state of emergency on April 24, it being lifted on May 6.
Dominion Hotel owner Shawn Chamberlin shared a similar sentiment.
“It was a great summer once it started,” Chamberlin wrote in an email to the paper. “It seems that our three months of April slowed the customers down a little in the spring but when Mother Nature turned summer on the last week of June it was really crazy busy.”
Thomas agreed that once the weather hit, so did the crowds.
“You get the weather, and the people come up here,” he said.
Chamberlin said that he noticed an increase in guests from the Ottawa area.
“Over the past few years we’ve kept track of area codes of guests in our hotel,” he wrote. “We are seeing a lot more 613 area codes (from the Ottawa region) than we ever saw before. It is our feeling that there are more multiple day visits as well, which is good for our economy.”
Chamberlin told the paper that staffing continues to be a challenge.
“Perhaps our biggest challenge this summer was finding enough labour (skilled and unskilled) to staff our business,” he wrote. “There just didn’t seem to be enough people around who wanted to work. We hear the same story amongst other merchants and service providers. Every year seems to be more difficult to ‘staff up’ in the spring. It wasn’t that long ago we had 40 or 50 applicants for summer jobs. Now we’re lucky to have three or four that come to us. This is clearly going to be a long-term problem for all of us.”
Chamberlin believes the retention of young families in the area, as well as the introduction of public transportation, are key to helping local businesses thrive.
“As a community we need to attract and have the facility to keep young families,” he wrote. “We have a lack of affordable housing for young families. And without public transportation we severely cripple our economy. People can’t get to and from jobs or into town for shopping, entertainment or any of the necessary services. These two issues have a major impact to our inventory of available labour not to mention consumers of the goods and services we want to sustain in our community.”
Thomas told the paper he thought clearer connections between the municipal parking lot in Minden, located off Milne Street, and the main drag could increase foot traffic along Bobcaygeon Road.
“It’s great because there’s lots of parking,” he said of the municipal lot, but added that cleaning up and highlighting the alleyway that provides a pedestrian path from the lot to the main street, as well as a mechanism to draw more people around the corner at the post office (Milne and Water streets) could help to increase the number of shoppers on the village’s main stretch.
Thomas added the pleasant weather that has continued through much of October has helped to continue to bring visitors to town.