Business owners in all sectors across Canada are scared. Otherwise successful businesses are at risk of closure without the government modifying the terms of CEBA Loans. These are some of their stories.
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For decades, Anita Agrawal’s family has been operating Jewels 4 Ever and Best Bargains Jewelry in Toronto. They’ve successfully navigated changing market trends, customer habits & major commercial rent increases.
When it came to a CEBA Loan, they accepted the fact they would need to take one out. Their retail store had been shut down for over 12 months between 2020 – 2022. Along with that, they had lost their ability to sell at trade shows – a lucrative tool that has kept their business growing.
With events coming back, they can see the light. But now they’re torn between paying back their CEBA loan and investing in trade shows. Anita is hopeful that a CEBA Loan extension will allow them to do both. An extended time period will take the short term pressure off, allow them repay the debt, and return to more trade shows through 2023/2024.
FOOTPRINTS ON MUSKOKA
Footprints on Muskoka has been a popular tourist destination in downtown Bracebridge for years. Like many retailers, FoM has been focused on retaining staff while balancing out the rising costs of running a main street business.
In 2023, she was dealt a 1-2 punch of having to repay CEBA loans & a landlord expecting a major rent increase. This created an impossible situation – even if she sold out of her 2023 summer stock, her business wouldn’t be able to pay the increased rent or CEBA.
In July 2023 she was able to find a new retail space, avoiding the major rent increase. But with half her selling season gone, it’s unlikely she’ll be able to sell enough to meet the CEBA repayment & debt forgiveness deadline of December 31st, 2023. Extending both the loan forgiveness and payback date will allow Krista and other business owners like her to balance out payments and future growth.
FULL CIRCLE FOODS
Since 1981, Full Circle Foods has been a mainstay in downtown Kitchener, offering its grocery & bulk selection of plant-based, local, and waste-free shopping. Full Circle became a living wage employer in February 2020.
Full Circle’s midday and after-work weekday sales were wiped out when office workers were sent home in 2020, and these customers have not fully returned. New residents moving to the area aren’t yet making up for the lost sales at Full Circle or other stores in the neighbourhood.
In order to meet the CEBA repayment deadline, Full Circle is considering maxing out their line of credit and taking on additional loans, adding to their already-precarious financial situation. Extending the CEBA repayment plan would enable co-owner Sam to take a salary – something he hasn’t done since the beginning of the pandemic – as well as pay co-owner Julia at least a minimum wage.
PURE LUSH DESIGNS
Pure Lush Designs is a Toronto-based luxury wedding decor and floral design company with a private event space, founded in 2011. Owner Melissa Barban was running a highly successful company with 150 weddings on her books before the pandemic hit. With clients hesitant to commit because of uncertainty around lockdowns and social distancing requirements, the business’s future bookings were virtually wiped out overnight.
Still incurring thousands of dollars of overhead costs meant Melissa was forced to take out several loans to keep her doors open. The CEBA loan’s forgivable portion made it a great financing option for the business, but Pure Lush Designs was eventually told they were ineligible for forgiveness despite meeting stated criteria and providing much-needed jobs to several staff.
Added inflationary pressures has changed the wedding market since 2020, with luxury decor now an unaffordable extra expense – and many couples even giving up a wedding altogether. The business is considering claiming bankruptcy and planning on closing its doors for good. Loan forgiveness for more businesses and an extended payback period would enable Melissa to get to work on her craft and explore ways to pivot around a changing market.
GO TOURS CANADA
Located in Toronto’s Distillery District, Go Tours Canada launched in 2004 and is a pivotal member of Toronto’s tourism industry. Operated with a keen eye for efficiency, the company had been debt free until 2020. Because of the acute impact that the pandemic had on tourism, Go Tours acquired debt for the first time ever – along with an almost impossible market to recoup any losses.
Like every tourism based business in Ontario, Go Tours Canada was closed for almost 18 months between 2020 and 2022. And while 2023 hasn’t brought any shutdowns, .
As the 2023 deadline for debt forgiveness approaches, the company has had to balance a still weak tourism industry and sales with increased operating costs. Without a loan extension, Go Tours management worries they won’t ever be able to recover. A loan extension will give them the tools they need to continue investing in employees, new products & marketing to drive stronger sales in 2024 – and a faster debt repayment.
WHAT SHE SAID TALK
Candace Sampson bought her radio show in January 2020, a date that will go down in history as the last winter before COVID-19 began affecting our lives permanently. After a successful initial two months, all sponsorship income evaporated in March 2020. Within two weeks, the radio show had lost all its sponsors.
The CEBA Loan was a lifesaver because it let her keep her show on the air and take a break from financing her business and life with her retirement savings. Three years later, she still has no take-home salary from her business income, but her audience and brand traction are growing.
Although What She Said Talk is scheduling radio spots into 2024, the business has little income from which to repay their CEBA loan at the end of 2023. With no renewed repayment terms in sight, Candace is considering closing the business down at the end of the year, wiping out any opportunity to build on momentum and grow the business back to financial health.