Winnipeg shop going out of business due to coronavirus pandemic

Michele Zubrin is busy putting together orders at The Painter’s Café this week, but those orders are only for the remainder of her stock as she prepares to close the doors of her Winnipeg business for good due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“We just know that this place will not survive this crisis. Bottom line,” she said.

Zubrin and her sister Angie opened the shop up three years ago to offer a place for people to be creative and craft projects.

In the middle of March, the sisters had to close up after concerns about the novel coronavirus pandemic forced them to shut the doors.

After some time, they decided they would need to shut the doors for good.

“I am a sole proprietor, and there are no bailouts for sole proprietors and unincorporated companies. Even if there was a bailout, we would have to pay it back,” she said.

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“Even if it was deferred, all of a sudden I’m going to get a bill in the mail: ‘You owe us $10,000.’ I need income to pay these bills.”

The sisters aren’t alone: a recent survey by the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce found that three in 10 leaders believe the pandemic will put them out of business.

Zubrin says it’s just a matter of time before others are facing the same decision she and her sister had to make. 

“Everyone is really tight with finances right now. They’re being laid off, there’s no money, they’re going to be keeping every dime they possibly can. Even though let’s say six months down, the road everything’s been lifted and everything’s fine, and they want to do shopping, they still have how many months worth to catch up,” she said.

“They’re not going to go shop, shop, shop, so us little small businesses, we’re not going to survive. We’re not.”

Zubrin says even though these are difficult times, she feels grateful.

“We put three years into this. Both Angie and I quit our corporate jobs and said we are going to follow our dreams, and for the last three years, we’ve done wonderful. We have such an amazing group of followers, and they’re so supportive of us and crying for us that we have to close down,” she said.

Zubrin says she still has plans to continue with the legacy of the shop when the dust settles, maybe looking at options like home parties and still selling the shop’s hand-painted items.

“Yeah, sure, it’s a tear-jerker, but we’ve learned so much to the point where we know we will be able to survive. Albeit maybe not so big as this, but of course we are going to be good,” she said.

“To all of our friends and family who have supported us over the years, we thank you from the bottom of our heart.”

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