Local businesses find silver lining to ongoing border closure
WINDSOR, ONT. -- The Canada-U.S. border has been closed for 16 months, and while many are eager to see the border open again, some local businesses say they are seeing a boost in business thanks to the closure.
“I couldn’t believe it when I pulled in, I thought it was going to be empty, but it’s actually busy here,” says shopper John Spadafora.
That's a sentiment echoed by shoppers and business owners alike.
“Right now it’s been crazy actually,“ says owner of Freeds Windsor, Ari Freed.
Canadians remain unable to enter the U.S. for non-essential purposes like shopping and dining, and local businesses are reaping the rewards.
“Since we reopened, the pent up demand it’s just going full steam ahead with customers coming in,” says Freed.
“We’ve been crazy busy. Our Friday and Saturday night reservations are through the roof,” says owner of Mezzo restaurant, Fil Rocca.
Rocca says there has been a definite shift in clientele.
“Pre-pandemic we had about 25 per cent of American clientele. Now with the border closed obviously we lost that 25 per cent, but gained local people staying within the community which is amazing to see."
“To get back, to socialize with people and breaking bread with people, I think it’s one of the nicest things to see,” says Mezzo customer, Frank Frabotta.
“It is one of the silver linings of having the border closed even though we all want it to open as soon as possible, as soon as it safe. In the meantime, I know those restaurants and businesses are benefitting from all the folks that are shopping local,” says Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens.
Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Rakesh Naidu hopes the uptick in business will help recoup some of the losses from the past year.
“There’s still a long way to go for these companies to get some level of consistent profits coming in, some level of stability and we need to be there for them. Let’s continue doing our part, which is to rally behind the businesses and hope that year we can continue even after the border opens."
“It’s great to see, but due to the pandemic we’re kind of a little bit in debt regarding paying back things. This is just helping pay back things faster, so we’re hoping that it stays that way and we can get back to somewhat normal,” says Rocca
“It’s good, it feels like the city is coming back to life finally,“ adds Spadafora.