Uncertain time for entrepreneurs

New business owners are wondering what’s next.


Courtney Harnum was going to open her new business in May, but the COVID-19 crisis has changed all that. She is unsure what will happen when things return to normal. Supplied photo


Patrick Newhook
Kicker News

Starting a new business is a challenge at any time. Starting a new business during a pandemic is next to impossible.

Last summer the community of Dildo experienced a tourism boom. Entrepreneurs quickly jumped on the opportunity to start new businesses while established businesses and locals anticipated and prepared for what they thought would be another banner tourism season.

These plans, however, were halted with the outbreak of COVID-19. With established businesses forced to close to reduce social gatherings and maintain social distancing, the new businesses are left wondering what will happen to them.

Courtney Harnum owns a boutique and souvenir store in Whitbourne. Since October she has been planning to open up a second location in Dildo. Harnum intended to open in May 2020, but that won’t happen now.

“All of my renovations are on hold, said Harnum. “I can’t get any displays or any inventory. Everything is on hold. I’m quite nervous about it.”

Most businesses are not able to open their doors to the public due to the spread of COVID-19. New businesses can’t even get off the ground.

Bill Newhook, another new business owner, was planning on opening his souvenir shop in Dildo on April 1. That didn’t happen.

“Right now, business is delayed until it becomes feasible – if it becomes feasible,” said Newhook.

With COVID-19 and travel restrictions, there are fewer tourists spending money in the town of approximately 1,200. The town came to international prominence after American talk show host Jimmy Kimmel highlighted it in a long-running publicity stunt.

“You can’t operate if there’s no tourists,” said Newhook. “It’s not going to go back to normal right away.  [It’s] absolutely going to take some time.”

Despite it all, Newhook and Harnum are feeling optimistic about the future and when they can open. They both realize there is little they can do right now. They are hoping that Newfoundlanders will support each other when it all starts up again.

“I think that once everything is back up and running, people are going to get out and try to support local,” said Harnum.


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