Growth industries: Landscaper, cannabis store among businesses seeing spike in sales during pandemic

By | May 14, 2020

Not that long ago Blake Champagne was wondering if there would be any work for him and his seasonal staff this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now the Winnipeg landscaper, who has operated his small business for about eight years, is trying to keep up with an increase in demand and is booking clients into August.

“Six weeks ago, a couple months ago, I had no idea what was going to happen. It was very scary. My guys would be calling me saying, ‘Hey, are we good to go to work?’ And I was, like, ‘Well, we have some work lined up but I don’t know.'”

Champagne wasn’t sure if people would be wanting workers in their yards because of physical distancing recommendations to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Instead, he is one of several local landscapers who told CBC they are overwhelmed with work.

“It’s been busy. Phones have been definitely going off the hook. This is probably my busiest spring as far as quotes and meeting new people ever, for sure,” he said.

With restaurant dining rooms closed and events cancelled, Champagne thinks some cash has been freed up to spend on things like home improvements — especially landscaping, since many people will have more time at home this summer.

“If people are going to be looking for landscaping in two or three months, I feel sorry for those people, because everyone’s going to be booked by that time.”

Business growing at Delta 9

The CEO of Winnipeg-based Delta 9 said business has grown so much during the pandemic, he’s had to hire more than 75 new employees — a 30 per cent increase in the cannabis producer and retailer’s workforce.

“Stores are quite busy, we’re seeing increased foot traffic, we’re seeing bigger cart sizes, things like that,” said John Arbuthnot, adding most of the employees have come from the hospitality industry, which has experienced massive layoffs in the past months.

Delta 9 CEO John Arbuthnot at the company’s retail store in Osborne Village. (Austin Grabish/CBC)

The young budding entrepreneur said the company has tried to adapt, with changes like its new click-and-collect service. Customers can place an order online and drive to a store, where a staff member checks ID through the window of a car and then put the product in the trunk.

There is never any physical contact between staff and customers, he said.

Arbuthnot attributes the rise in sales to new edibles that have recently rolled into the market, more people staying at home with free time and the recent elimination of a black market delivery service in Winnipeg that police busted.

“But of course like every business, we’re struggling with certain supply chain issues, access to personal protective wear for our production operations … but again, feel that we’re very fortunate to have been able to continue to operate throughout the crisis.”

The co-owner of Aqua-Tech, which sells pools and hot tubs and does bathroom renovations, says sales are up about 30 per cent and anticipates the trend will last throughout the pandemic.

“We weren’t too sure what to expect, but the interest is quite strong,” said Glen MacGillivray.

He said the company is now booked into July for jobs and attributes the rise in business to more people staying at home.

“They’re telling us that … travel is out. They still want to have something for their family to do so they can still get together in groups of five to 10, and now they can have a place to enjoy in their backyard.”

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