Life support

Alberta Avenue businesses on life support amid construction and COVID

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A number of Alberta Avenue businesses are on life support, with one even closing its doors as ongoing construction in the area is hampering accessibility.

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On Saturday afternoon, four businesses affected by Epcor’s Kinnair sewer separation project as well as home improvements on the north side of 118 Avenue and 88 Street, gathered in the area to seek help .

Shady Darwish, co-owner of City Liquidation, said he has seen business drop by at least 90% since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and the construction project has made matters worse, forcing him to permanently close their store. in two weeks.

“It’s tough. It’s really, really tough,” Darwish said.

“After so many years of giving all the time and attention to this business, love, having put it all together and even seeing children grow up on the avenue, it’s tough, but changes need to be made. made and I can’t keep losing money.

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Darwish has been running the store for about 10 years now. It started as a pawn shop before becoming a retail store in an effort to attract more customers.

“I have to (close) because all the expenses that have piled up, we’re talking about rent and staff that I had to lay off, unfortunately that’s what caused me to close,” Darwish said.

Aminata’s Hair Braiding & Beauty Supply, Tropicana Grocery and Koultures Afro-Continental Restaurant joined Darwish at the Construction Party Cash Mob event hosted by the Alberta Avenue Business Association. The goal of the spot crowd was for Edmontonians to head down and support businesses between 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturday and going forward.

Aminata Fofanah, owner of Aminata’s Hair Braiding & Beauty Supply, said she was “about a month away” from having to close as well.

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“It’s really, really bad because I can’t handle COVID and now I have to deal with construction,” Fofanah said. “And dealing with COVID was really crazy, but now the construction feels like I’m leaving the fire going into the deep hole.”

Fofanah opened the salon at the start of the pandemic and said she was also losing repeat customers due to lack of accessibility.

“This morning two people canceled and one of them was my good client and she is disabled,” she said. “I can’t keep telling them to park there, so there’s no way for them to come back here.”

She said construction is expected to continue until September and is likely not to get there by then. Fofanah said she felt defeated and was “losing”.

“I know from my side that I can’t wait for September because my savings are exhausted, my husband’s savings are exhausted, so I can’t wait for September,” Fofanah said. “I can’t keep going, I think I have about a month left because I can’t keep taking money out of my pocket that I don’t have.”

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