Pivoting and adapting seems to be the name of the game for businesses in the Boundary. Whether it’s building back after fires and floods or reinventing the very way you serve customers – behind Plexiglass or at the curb’s edge – it seems to be a necessary forte to succeed in the region.
So why then should the start of marketing manager Sarah Dinsdale’s tenure have been any different. Dinsdale has been hired on to work with Boundary businesses to implement an action plan set out last summer by community consultant Roger Brooks. Regional branding and beautification ideas were on the priority list, but those got bumped when she started the job last month, just as COVID-19 precautionary measures were ramping up across the province.
“From day one, it was like, ‘This is the job, but we need to change it to address the needs for the businesses are facing today,’” Dinsdale said.
Since she began her role, many businesses deemed non-essential by the province have been forced to close or drastically curtail their services, throwing new obstacles before any sort of business community development.
“It’s just one of those things where we’re all we’re all in it together, like they say, and we’re trying to adjust on a weekly basis as new information comes out, new restrictions come out and new funding comes out – it’s not boring, that’s for sure,” Dinsdale said.
So instead of working on a comprehensive plan for universal signage and a cohesive identity for downtown Grand Forks, as identified by Brooks as areas to improve, Dinsdale, a former owner of an event planning and rental company on Vancouver Island, is curating Facebook and Instagram pages to keep up with who is open for business and whose doors are closed, as well as curating a go-to list of up-to-date regulations and signage on the Boundary Country Regional Chamber of Commerce’s website.
Entrepreneurs and managers who are wanting to get the word out that they’re still open for business or providing service – even if their doors are closed to the public – can contact Dinsdale at email@example.com to get their information out there on social media through the chamber’s channels.
Among the struggles though, some restaurants have appeared to be leaning into the take-out model, something that Dinsdale said should be applauded when done appropriately.
“I’m glad that people can still stay safe and all these businesses are adapting,” she said. “They’re following all the protocols that are supposed to be in place – they’re doing curb-side pickup or delivery or takeout and I think as long as they’re following protocols, we should definitely be supporting them.”
Other businesses like grocery stores and retailers are now doing door-to-door delivery to help people stay home. “I can’t believe the number of business owners out there doing deliveries on their own because they have to do so. That’s great,” Dinsdale added. “Everyone’s doing what they can. I think a lot of them are doing a really great job at it.”
Though in emergency mode, Dinsdale says she’s looking forward to working on some of the priorities outlined in her job description that will help bring the business revitalization vision to life in the Boundary. In the meantime though, the focus is on trying to help keep businesses afloat.