Airdronian Lindsey Cybulskie who has owned and operated Homegrown House and Pantry Inc. for nearly five years will be closing shop at the end of January. The small business owner said that while she had made the decision in the fall before her upcoming lease renewal, she didn't announce it publically until earlier this week.
"After COVID-19 hit, it was actually quite incredible to see Airdrie rally together and it was really one of our best years for sales, but in 2021, once everyone started getting back to work and inflation started skyrocketing, it was very noticeable that people weren't spending as much money as they were before," she said.
Cybulskie, a mother of two herself, said that she is painfully aware of just how expensive even the necessities are and when it came time to decide whether she should renew the lease, she realized it was best to not renew, not only to protect her own finances but to also protect her vendors.
"Some of our vendors have seen some stores close and have gone through some pretty terrible situations where they don't get paid or they lose some of their inventory and I wanted to protect our vendors."
Cybulskie didn't deny that COVID-19 impacted her business, though she noted that people were still willing to spend money, whereas, with inflation, families are having to make difficult choices over what is a need and what is a want, with increasing feelings that even the most basic of needs are becoming increasingly out of reach for some. She estimated that during Christmas 2022, sales were down nearly 20 per cent and all transactions also took a 20 per cent plunge.
She said that operating a home-based business is not feasible for her at this point in time and that there has also been a shift in the business landscape in Airdrie.
"When I started, we were really the only little shop licensed in Airdrie and now there's about five; Airdrie has only got about 70,000 people here. The market just becoming a little bit more saturated."
Though the initial emotions have passed since she made the decision, Cybulskie said it was nonetheless a difficult one to make.
"Now I'm ready to move on to something new, but it was very difficult in the fall. It's difficult, especially with a storefront, you don't want to show that you're struggling because then people get worried and people don't come as much or they start using all of their gift cards, and then you're kind of stuck with money going out, but no money coming in," she said.
Cybulskie has spoken to other small businesses who are also contemplating closing, citing that they too are seeing that the public has much less disposable income to spend, creating a domino effect for businesses, which in turn if they can't turn a profit are unable to operate and pay their own expenses.
In a social media post on the business's page, she thanked the community for their support.
"We have loved getting to know all of this incredible community, and from the bottom of our hearts, we thank you so much for the support. We would not have lasted 5 years if it wasn’t for you."
Days after Cybulskie announced her business was closing, on Wednesday, January 18, the École des Petits Amis preschool in Airdrie also announced via social media that they would be closing their doors in June 2023.
"We are heartbroken to be closing due to financial considerations after ten wonderful years. Thank you so very much for your support and love over the years. Airdrie is an amazing community to raise a family and we love that we were a part of so many lives for ten years," the social media post read.
When asked what her plans are for the future, Cybulskie said she is considering either passing the bar exam and practicing law in Alberta or perhaps becoming a Chartered Professional Accountant.
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