Grand Bend businesses look for better times as they head into last hoorah of summer
LONDON, ONT -- The unofficial end to the summer season is almost here, and it’s been one that some tourism business will be happy to leave behind.
Just south of Grand Bend, Shivers and Shakes camp supply store owner Robin Macey takes it all in stride, in spite of business being down as much as 50 per cent.
“We’ve just been kinda treating it like a rain year. Just one day at a time. It’s pretty tough to get back what you lost at the beginning of the year. You only got a short season.”
For the most part, the season of COVID-19 has been a season of discontent for those who rely on tourism dollars. However, one bright spot in the pandemic has been domestic and provincial travel, with many choosing not to stray too far from home.
Alliston resident George Courtemanche has been camping, and stopped into Shivers and Shakes for fire wood. “We’re sticking close to home and we’re visiting our own province here in Ontario.”
Just a few kilometres north the Bend is heating up with feet on the street, and bodies on the beach.
Businesses are hoping to make the best of what’s left of a shortened season.
Midori sushi bar owner Greg Francis said it’s been a tough go.
“It’s been a really unusual season. The weather’s been really good though so things went well, as best they could. We only had about 30 percent of our capacity to seat, and it’s all outside. We’ve chosen to seat only outside.”
And while most Grand Bend businesses have made a go of it, some longtime merchants are noticeably absent from the strip, choosing not to reopen during this summer of uncertainty.
Daily Grand Bend visitor Robert Barr looks around and sees boarded up store-fronts and wonders why.
“I’d say half the town hasn’t opened yet and it’s Labour Day. I don’t know why they’re not open. They got the business.”
Meantime, with the Labour Day long weekend here, businesses are hoping the sun shines on their last chance at glory.
Judy Farhat, whose family has owned Grand Bend Clothing Co. for 64 years, is also hoping for a safe weekend. “I hope for beautiful weather and that everyone comes to Grand Bend and stays safe.”