Sam Baio, owner of Nelson’s Valhalla Pure Outfitters, says he’s keeping his store closed on Boxing Day due to COVID-19 crowd concerns. Photo: Tyler Harper

Sam Baio, owner of Nelson’s Valhalla Pure Outfitters, says he’s keeping his store closed on Boxing Day due to COVID-19 crowd concerns. Photo: Tyler Harper

Wary of the pandemic, Nelson businesses opt to stay closed on Boxing Day

They say the profit isn’t worth the potential of infection

Every year, Sam Baio looks forward to standing outside his store in a gaudy ski suit to welcome in Boxing Day customers.

The annual Boxing Day sale has always been a big draw at Valhalla Pure Outfitters in downtown Nelson, so much so that Baio wondered if his business wasn’t violating fire codes by having too many people inside.

“In the past I wasn’t sure if the fire department ever shut me down,” he said. “I really enjoyed the buzz of that.”

But this year Baio has decided the buzz — and profit — isn’t worth the safety hazard of having a crowd downtown during a pandemic. So on Saturday, for the first time in 25 years, Valhalla Pure will be closed on Boxing Day.

Baio said when he weighed the draw of Boxing Day against the possibility of COVID-19 spreading on Baker Street, the choice was made for him.

“I have this bit of a moral obligation to think that a decision that I can make actually can change the amount of people downtown.”

Laura Price owns Scout, a women’s clothing store in Nelson. She’s also closing her doors for Boxing Day, which she says will be a first in 15 years of owning a retail store.

Price said she considered the decision for two months before telling her staff they would get a break. Inviting in crowds of customers during a pandemic, she said, makes no sense.

“It just seems bizarre to do this, to do Boxing Day, when it’s a day when the store is packed,” she said.

The holiday season is typically an important time for the city’s small businesses ahead of a usual drop in business in January and February, according to Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce executive director Tom Thomson.

But Thomson said this year, when the spring lockdown led to both temporary and permanent closures, has put many businesses in the position of relying on the holidays to help recover from financial losses.

“Just like in the summertime a lot of the accommodators and [restaurants] need to build up a bit of a war chest to get them through quieter times and the shoulder seasons, I think the smaller businesses need to do the same type of thing,” said Thomson.

”They need to have a really great November, December to carry them through the quieter months.”

Baio said his business benefited this year by selling equipment for outdoor recreation, which the province encouraged. His online business boomed, and Black Friday in November also took pressure off his need to make sales on Boxing Day.

That has put Baio in a privileged position to close on Dec. 26, but he’s also sensitive to the needs of other owners who don’t have that luxury.

“This is when you put money in the bank and it carries you through slow times. So I understand that,” he said. “But I need to do this because I think I’m making a good point here and we draw so many people to our store on Baker Street.”

Price also had a better year than expected. Her customers spent their money in the province this year, and have already supported her decision to sit out Boxing Day.

“I’m totally excited to not be open,” she said.

Related: Black Friday shopping in a pandemic: COVID-19 closes some stores, sales move online

@tyler_harper | tyler.harper@nelsonstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Just Posted

Parking time is to be limited in one spot on 9th. (Houston Today photo)
District seeks grant to update bylaws

And decides on 15-minute parking

Bench installation on 9th Street is another sign the project is nearing completion. (Houston Today photo)
Progress being made on 9th Street finish

District aiming for June completion

File photo
Mental health checks proving valuable

Police officer and nurse team up each week

The two billboards for the Cow Moose Sign project arrived in Topley last week with Justin Cradock, owner of Pitbull Trucking Ltd. and the area is now getting prepared for installation. (Dan Simmons photo/Houston Today)
Cow Moose sign project billboards arrive in Topley

Two billboards for the Cow Moose Sign project have arrived in Topley… Continue reading

File photo
Snow clearing changes would cost money, survey finds

Council being asked to give direction

A prowling coyote proved no match for a stray black cat who chased it out of a Port Moody parking lot Friday, May 14. (Twitter/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Little but fierce: Cat spotted chasing off coyote by Port Moody police

The black cat is seen jumping out from under a parked car and running the wild animal out of a vacant lot

White Rock’s Marine Drive is being restricted to single-lane one-way traffic to allow more patio space for waterfront restaurants, with indoor dining restricted from the end of March to some time after the May 24 weekend. (Peace Arch News)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate falls to 411 cases Tuesday

360 people in hospital, up slightly, two more deaths

The Banff National Park entrance is shown in Banff, Alta., Tuesday, March 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Minister asks Canadians to camp carefully in national parks as season starts

Kitchen shelters in Banff National Park closed, trails on Vancouver Island will only be one-way

Passengers on board the Komagata Maru are shown in this undated handout image. The City of Vancouver has issued an apology for its racist role in denying entry to 376 passengers aboard a ship that was forced to return to India over a century ago. Mayor Kennedy Stewart says discrimination by the city had “cruel effects” on the Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims aboard the Komagata Maru, which arrived in Burrard Inlet on May 23, 1914. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Vancouver Public Library
Vancouver mayor says sorry for city’s role in turning away South Asians in 1914

Kennedy Stewart has declared May 23 as the annual Komagata Maru Day of Remembrance

A crew of WestCoast WILD Adventures employees tackled an onslaught of litter left at the ‘Locks of Love’ fence at Wally Creek on May 2. (Anne-Marie Gosselin photo)
Litter woes consume popular ‘Locks of Love’ fence on B.C.’s Pacific Rim

Popular view spot near Tofino plagued by people hanging masks and other unwanted garbage

Vincent Doumeizel, senior advisor at the United Nations Global Compact on Oceans, as well as director for the Food Programme for the Lloyd’s Register Foundation, pulls up some sugar kelp seaweed off the French coast in April 2020. He was the keynote speaker during the opening ceremony of the inaugural Seaweed Days Festival. (Vincent Doumeizel/Submitted)
Let’s hear it for seaweed: slimy, unsexy and the world’s greatest untapped food source

Experts talks emerging industry’s challenges and potential at Sidney inaugural Seawood Days Festival

Troy Patterson, a Cadboro Bay 15-year-old, got a virtual meeting with B.C.’s environment minister months after he started an online petition calling for construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline to stop. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
B.C. teen’s 23,000-name Coastal GasLink petition gets him an audience with the minister

15-year-old Saanich high school student and George Heyman discussed project for about 30 minutes

Announced Tuesday, May 18 by Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth, the province added gyms, dance and fitness studios to its list of places where face coverings are mandatory (AP/Steven Senne)
Masks now required at all times inside B.C. gyms, including during workouts

Those who disobey could be subject to a $230 fine

Reinhard “Bud” Loewen of Abbotsford has now been charged with 21 counts of sexual assault related to his massage business. (Facebook photo)
Former Abbotsford masseur now faces 21 counts of sexual assault

Bud Loewen of Bud’s Massage Therapy initally faced three charges

Most Read