‘If tourists don’t come, I don’t make money’: stores in Old Montreal say reopening plan does nothing to them
It’s Thursday, and Jerry Joseph’s art store at Marché Bonsecours in Old Montreal has yet to make a single sale this week.
The same goes for Nick Corraya, who has owned a souvenir shop on rue Saint-Paul Est for 39 years.
For 14 months, the city center has been essentially deserted. That is expected to change over the next two weeks as the province prepares to lift several public health restrictions.
From tomorrow, the curfew will be a thing of the past and people will be able to eat al fresco on restaurant terraces. Indoor dining in Montreal and Laval is expected to be allowed starting June 7, but that could change.
Joseph and Corraya say all of this means very little to them as long as tourism remains dead in the city.
“If the tourists don’t come, I don’t make any money,” Corraya told CBC Montreal. Dawn Thursday. “Last week I sold [for] $ 12.99 only. “
The influx of people downtown is great news for restaurants and bars, but Joseph says specialty stores will continue to struggle fiercely.
“As locals, we don’t usually do our shopping in the Old Port, we go there for leisure, we go there to have fun, to eat,” said Joseph. “If I want to go shopping, I usually go to a large shopping center like Carrefour Laval, Center Eaton, Quartier DIX30, Mirabel.
Travel between regions of the province will also be allowed from tomorrow, which should help downtown businesses. However, Corraya says most of her clients are from overseas.
“We need people from outside Montreal or from Canada,” he said. “[Most of my tourists] are from Mexico, Switzerland, Germany, France and other countries. I have regulars for 39 years, the same customers who come to my store. “
Since the start of the pandemic, the mayor of Montreal, Valérie Plante, has unveiled several plans to revive the city’s economy.
On Thursday, the mayor presented a series of measures to beautify downtown this summer and make it more fun, including pedestrian streets, more sofas and benches, and outdoor cultural events.
But Joseph wants Plante to stress the need for Montrealers to support specialty shops, not just restaurants and bars.
“Sell the Old Port district, not only as a space where there is the Ferris wheel or [a place] where they can go and hang out, “he said.” They should just be thinking about going, having fun while shopping at the same time.
Corraya said he had received federal loans to keep him afloat during the pandemic, but said after nearly 40 years in business he may not be able to survive much longer.
“Two months, or three months at the most,” he said. “I would like to keep my business open. It’s my bread and butter.”