West End BIZ hopes to prop up new businesses that have survived pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating to businesses across Winnipeg, but the city’s West End is trying to generate interest in local gems that have weathered the storm with New Business Week — a celebration of the 60 businesses that took the risk of opening shop during the pandemic.

West End BIZ executive director Joe Kornelsen said that while seeing the 60 new businesses take on the challenge and make it through the year despite all the struggles is a positive sign for the area, the neighbourhood also lost 90 businesses due to the pandemic’s effects.

Read more: Push to shop local is working, Winnipeg business owners say

“That’s an awful number, a very concerning number — and something we worked very hard to try to prevent happen,” Kornelsen told 680 CJOB.

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“What makes the West End so great is the streets you can walk down… You’re walking past storefront after storefront after storefront, and you can experience the grocery stores, the barbershops, the little restaurants serving their ethnic cuisine.

“When you start to lose those businesses, you have gaps in that experience. It impacts the experience of that community feel. Holding on to those businesses is key to keeping that community spirit alive.”

In an attempt to prop up those new businesses, the BIZ is holding a contest on its website, where Winnipeggers can win gift cards as well as other fun area-specific prizes.

“Folks who hop on our website will find a listing of all of our brand new businesses, and they can go and support those businesses and enter in a draw,” said Kornelsen.

“They can win a gift certificate for any business in the entire neighbourhood, and our special West End BIZ socks, which feature the names of our most prominent and interesting streets.”

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