Some P.E.I. businesses boom while others bust during Week 1 of Canada Games

The Gallery co-owner Jessica Fritz says the café has seen an increase in traffic since the Canada Winter Games began.  (Stacey Janzer/CBC - image credit)
The Gallery co-owner Jessica Fritz says the café has seen an increase in traffic since the Canada Winter Games began. (Stacey Janzer/CBC - image credit)

Some businesses on P.E.I. are enjoying the benefits of having thousands of people on P.E.I. for the Canada Winter Games in the middle of winter. But others say they've seen "zero impact," even though they hired extra staff.

The P.E.I. school system is having March Break during the Games, and that means some Islanders have headed off on vacation.

One of the businesses that has seen an increase in traffic is Hojo's Sushi Burrito. It's located in Founder's Hall, a destination for a lot of Canada Games-related activities.

Stacey Janzer/CBC
Stacey Janzer/CBC

Roshika Shrestha from Hojo's said they have had two people preparing food.

"I don't think one person ... would be able to handle all the customers with the rush and everything," she said.

Shrestha said typically on a Friday, they get between 10 and 15 orders. But during Week 1 of Games, they had triple that number.

"In the evening also it has gotten busier. In evening I see so many volunteers of Canada Games coming in."

It's the same at The Gallery, a café in downtown Charlottetown.

Stacey Janzer/CBC
Stacey Janzer/CBC

Co-owner Jessica Fritz said since the start of the Games, there have been more people coming in for a cup.

In fact, they've extended the café's hours to accommodate the increase.

Fritz says it's a much different scene than a year ago.

"Major change. I mean we were also in some sort of COVID-induced lockdown, but this winter has been better already winter-wise and definitely we have more people around," she said.

Stacey Janzer/CBC
Stacey Janzer/CBC

At Hive and Honeycomb, a pottery-painting café and board game lounge in downtown Charlottetown, assistant manager Chris Melanson said they've been disappointed.

"We overstaffed, overstocked our inventory with a lot of buildup from the Games anticipating that it was gonna be 'bananatown' as my wife would say and unfortunately we've seen zero impact economically from these Games so far," he said.

Melanson said the business isn't even seeing the usual March Break traffic. Two years ago people were lined up out the door waiting to get in, he said.

And he feels badly that he asked students to stay in the city to work during their break.

"They were so good to actually put their plans on hold to put our little business out to get through this two-week hump which actually wasn't necessary at all."

Stacey Janzer/CBC
Stacey Janzer/CBC

Tourism Industry Association of P.E.I. CEO Corryn Clemence said the association worked with regional tourism associations to promote local businesses before the Games, through blogs and social media.

She said business operators who aren't seeing a bump from the Games can try some different methods to get the word out about what they offer.

"Reaching out to the hotels in the areas that the businesses are in to maybe give them an update on hours of operation, maybe some specials and promotions they have going on and of course some online social media always helps," she said.

She also suggests reaching out to regional tourism associations to see if there are any opportunities there.

Back at the Hive and Honeycomb, Chris Melanson says he hasn't lost hope yet.

He said it's possible next week will be a different story.