The Deane Terrace development will be built aside and above the former Nelson Daily News building. The historic structure, built in 1899, and considered a tear down by appraisers a decade ago, was instead refurbished and built with a vision for the 10 one- and two-storey homes that will be built there, along with off-stage commercial space. Illustration: Submitted

The Deane Terrace development will be built aside and above the former Nelson Daily News building. The historic structure, built in 1899, and considered a tear down by appraisers a decade ago, was instead refurbished and built with a vision for the 10 one- and two-storey homes that will be built there, along with off-stage commercial space. Illustration: Submitted

BUSINESS BUZZ: Sales up in smoke, Baker’s Deane development, COVID catches up

Darren Davidson on the latest in Nelson’s business community

by Darren Davidson

It’s been a win-some-lose-some month since the last Business Buzz in July.

Just as things locked back down throughout the Interior Health region, the heavens opened on up. Tough to remember a time when days of rain, at times torrential, were so welcome.

There’s some sound insight to share on the economic damage the heavy wildfire season cost towns like ours, courtesy one of the city’s franchises. For reasons of profit/loss confidentiality, we’ll leave the name of the franchise and chain out of the details, but here’s what an analysis of the businesses’ August sales showed, across all its stores in Western Canada.

Of the Interior B.C. stores in markets that were heavily impacted by smoke and evacuation scares, business for the first two weeks of August was down 40 per cent compared to last year. (And that was mid-pandemic in 2020.)

Of the chain’s stores that were not impacted by wildfire, those on the Lower Mainland, the Island and Alberta, business was up 25 per cent.

All of the stores reported sales figures that were within a percentage of one another — the stats were quite telling in their consistency.

Simple math makes it safe to say that wildfires cost the smoked-out businesses 65 per cent of their revenues in the middle of a vital time of year for economies relying on the support of locals and visitors alike.

A lot of local retailers are reporting a noticeable surge in out-of-towners — not as big as usual — but fewer Nelson shoppers. A lot of people left town to split from the smoke. Coastal hot spots were reportedly very busy.

Another phenomenon staring a lot of businesses down is the supply chain logjam. From automotive sales and repair to bikes and building supplies, many stores are grappling with the lowest summer inventories they’ve ever seen — a wave of backorders for inventory that was needed months ago, and likely won’t sell nearly as fast.

Consider that Canadian Tire has purchased a 25 per cent stake in British Columbia’s largest inland port, in Ashcroft, for $40 million, in a scramble to support its own supply chain flexibility and sustainability goals. Canuck Rubber’s port purchase is almost unprecedented in big Canadian retail, but it’s happening more and more nowadays. And the shipping market is taking full advantage of the demand. A single shipping container for some sectors has shot from $3,000 to $30,000 per unit.

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Like other stretches of the Nelson skyline, Baker Street is in for a remarkable new anchor property. (And yes, it appears the city is in fact seeing the rise of an actual sky line, particularly from the west end of town looking up and over Government Road).

When lawyer Tim Pearkes and his partners purchased the vaunted Nelson Daily News building in 2010, appraisers figured the beautiful building, erected in 1899, was a tear down. Thankfully, the ownership group didn’t agree.

Now beautifully renovated and soon to bear the name of Francis J. Deane, the journalist and politician who launched the Daily News in 1902, the parcel is slated for 10 one and two-storey residences and street-level commercial space.

“We’re blending history and contemporary style into live/work spaces for both a young demographic or older — older couples who now want to move on from their family home,” says Pearkes, the project’s manager and a resident here since 1994.

Called Deane Terrace, the development is aimed at buyers looking for a property beyond Nelson’s big build out in affordable housing and in-fills. The places will be beautiful. Pre-sales are slated to start Sept. 15. Ed Olthof is the construction manager and Thomas Loh is the architect. Pacific West Builders is the general contractor and Valhalla Path Realty’s Wayne Germaine will be taking care of sales.

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Skipping straight across Baker… Noa Dagan and Jessica Wood have opened Taylor & Mae Eco Collective.

Billed as an eco-minded retail store and refillery, the store sells locally sourced eco-products including balms and candles as well as refills for bath and body products, household cleaners and toothpastes. (Bring your own container or try one of theirs.) Wood is also part of the ownership at The Black Cauldron Bar. Her business partner Dagan hails from San Francisco, where she left three years ago to “come here for the snow” and never left. Not an uncommon tale…

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Onto the COVID front.

Most folks are up to speed on the roll-back required after Nelson’s COVID case count reached its highest point ever with masks now re-mandated throughout the Interior Health region.

Fact: For residents 18-plus, Nelson is at 73 per cent first dose and 64 per cent both doses as of Aug. 17. Fully vaccinated rates are higher amongst 50-plus population, bringing the average to the 80 per cent range. A younger demographic, the 18-to-49 age group, is at 66 per cent first dose and 53 per cent for both doses.

By comparison, mountain towns that have already suffered big setbacks earlier in the pandemic due to recklessly low rates and loose compliance to masking and the like — Revelstoke and Fernie amongst them — are into the ‘80s. Whistler is at 99.6 per cent.

From Baker Street to the backcountry, the Nelson and region’s small business community is the heart of our economy and the source of jobs for you, families and friends.

Sure, some have prospered. But for just as many others, hard times can’t get harder.

The Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce is asking that as we head into the fall, support local. Get safe. Get your shot. And ease up on staff who remind you to mask ‘er up. They don’t make the rules.

Want to share your thoughts on how pandemic relief grants and funds have worked for your business? Or haven’t? The Chamber needs to know. They also need input on what problems the business community — including art, culture and non-profits — needs to address heading into the fall and winter. There’s a 10-minute survey at www.surveymonkey.com/r/CGQP758.

Small- and medium-sized businesses looking to enter or expand into the digital economy should take advantage of the DER3 program. Short for Digital Economy: Rapid Response + Resilience, DER3 re-launched this month and is open until the end of September. Digital vets John Leishman, Steve Fisher and Clee Roy helped 200 businesses get up and at ‘er in the last DER3 round. Fifty per cent of those businesses were led by women. Apply at kast.com/der3.

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A quick teaser on some of the yarns we’ll have next time ‘round…

Two big career moves to share great back stories on, from beer to ballots. After 23 years, sales pro Al McLeod is tipping his last pint (on the payroll at least) for the Nelson Brewing Company. In the political trenches since 2009, beside Michelle Mungall and now Brittny Anderson, Nelson-Creston constituency assistant Laurie Langille is moving on to work aside Selkirk College’s VP of Students and Advancement.

See you next month everyone. Get safe.