Local business owners

In a year that has tested everyone, Canberrans have been reminded of our responsibilities to each other and the power of community.

16 July 2020

There’s no doubt that COVID-19 has placed significant pressure on Canberra’s business community. However, one thing has kept them going.

Support from the Canberra community has ensured that employees have jobs to go to, suppliers have orders to fill and businesses have customers to serve.

East Hotel’s Brand Director, Dion Bisa, said she would be forever grateful for the support her Kingston business received from locals throughout COVID-19.

“We did this whole marketing campaign for Mother’s Day called ‘Stay Sane, Mums’ - basically getting them out of home schooling and COVID isolation and we got them into the hotel and looked after them for the night,” she said.

“It was so big – the uptake was amazing! Just all local mums … we all needed a break.”

Following a 90 per cent drop in revenue in the first week of COVID-19 restrictions, Jared Calnan knew his Braddon restaurant, Lazy Su, needed to pivot – and fast.

“We had to change our business model from being a dine-in restaurant to essentially being a takeaway shop,” he said.

“Interest grew each week; we expanded the menu pretty quickly. We then launched a delivery tour of Canberra at the end of April, where we delivered to a different region in Canberra each week.”

Mr Calnan admitted it was Lazy Su’s clientele that kept the team going during such a difficult time.

“The biggest reason we keep going is seeing smiles on our customers’ faces,” he said.

“We are more than just a restaurant; we provide an experience. And as long as people enjoy the Lazy Su experience, we will keep going. We will be the best that we can possibly be.”

James and Fiona Lester feel like family to many south Canberrans, who were devastated to see their gift shop, The Markets Wanniassa, close for six weeks during COVID-19.

“We decided we weren’t an essential service, even though some customers thought we were,” Mrs Lester said.

“My husband James is indigenous, over 50 and has had hearts attacks in the past so he is at risk [of COVID-19]. If he were to get it, I suspect there would be serious consequences.”

Since their re-opening, the Lesters have been flooded with support from the Canberra community.

“There was a time I thought this was going to be too hard, but then people rang and that gave us the fire in our belly to continue. They said, ‘We want to support you. We want to make sure you don’t close’,” Mrs Lester said.

However, this pandemic isn’t over yet. Canberra businesses still need your support. Every decision you make on where to spend your money has the potential to help Canberra recover from COVID-19.

Choose local to support our locals.

To find out how you can help, visit covid19.act.gov.au/chooselocalCBR.

All Canberra

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