Sandwiches are made at Surrey’s Dominion Bar + Kitchen for health-care workers at Surrey Memorial Hospital as part of project involving the restaurant, Downtown Surrey BIA and Surrey Hospital Foundation. (Photo: twitter.com/dominionsurrey)

‘Group effort’ by four BIAs in Surrey to help businesses hit by COVID-19 pandemic

‘We’re all aboard for this, and we’re trying to help,’ says CEO of Downtown Surrey BIA

The four business improvement associations in Surrey have joined forces to help local businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic.

The BIAs, as they’re known, cover Cloverdale, Fleetwood, Newton and the Downtown areas of Surrey.

“We’re all trying to help the situation, and it’s a real group effort,” said Elizabeth Model, CEO of Downtown Surrey BIA.

“Every week we have a conference call, representatives of the four BIAs, and we have a marketing campaign ready to roll out to help our members,” Model added. “We’re all aboard for this, and we’re trying to help. The situation is very fluid, with some businesses opened and others closing, even temporarily, depending on the situation.”

A BIA is a non-profit organization that represents all businesses and property owners in a specific area.

A “Support Small Business” declaration is posted to the homepage of downtownsurreybia.com.

“Our highest priority is the safety of Downtown Surrey residents, visitors, businesses, workers, and staff,” Model says in the post. “We want everyone to know that we will continue to monitor the current situations facing our vibrant Downtown and community.

“But, make no mistake, these closures, cancellations and new social atmosphere will inflict a major hit to our local Downtown businesses. Over 50% of our merchants are small and local businesses that rely on the patronage of the public for their livelihoods.”

While in-person shopping has been curtailed, Model said the BIA hopes that Downtown Surrey residents, visitors, workers, and the public will consider alternative options “to help our merchants maintain their livelihoods and keep Downtown Surrey the greatest it can be.”

Some ways to help support your small and local businesses, according to Model:

• “Shop online or over the phone. Many Downtown Surrey businesses have the ability to ship your favourite items to your home. Also, several of our restaurants use delivery services. Take a minute to reach out to your go to restaurant and check out what services they use.”

• “Buy gift cards. If you, your friends or family shop at certain Downtown Surrey businesses, it’s a great idea to purchase some gift cards that can be used at another time.”

• “Show your love online through social media. Many of our Downtown businesses have social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) and websites. While you’re at home, look them up and share what they are doing during these hard times. Share their stories and help them keep their businesses afloat.”

• “Stay engaged and educated about the concerns facing our community, and how they impact you.”

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In Clovedale, the BIA announced plans to move into new office space just as the COVID-19 pandemic hit in mid-March.

“Cloverdale BIA and Cloverdale Chamber are moving next door as of April 1 to 5738 176th Street,” the BIA posted to Facebook. “The office was used in the movie ‘Deck the Halls,’ which was shot in June of 2006 on 176 St.”

In a photo posted on April 7, a “final good luck charm” of a horseshoe was added to a wall of the new Cloverdale office.

“The office is closed to the public for now but we are following up on any inquiries being made.”

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In January of 2019, managers of Fleetwood BIA launched a Fleetwood Deals app to show who is open for business in the area – a place for consumers to get “the latest updates as situations and hours may change.” Online, the app can be found at fleetwooddeals.com.

“The Fleetwood Deals app is a free promotional tool, created by the Fleetwood Business Improvement Association,” the website says. “If you are a Fleetwood business, we can assist you with the promotion of your local business to increase your sales and brand awareness in Surrey.”

The app, free to download from the Canadian iTunes store and Google Play Store, is available to residents of Fleetwood as well as anyone visiting.

On Facebook, Fleetwood BIA also regularly lists businesses in the area that offer online or phone consultations, curbside pickup or delivery, and limited in-person services.

“Only visit businesses for in-person dealings if absolutely necessary, and do not visit them if you are sick or have been around someone who is sick,” the BIA says on its website. “Please call ahead or visit their websites to confirm their availability.”

A directory of businesses can be found on Fleetwood BIA’s website (fleetwoodbia.com).

• RELATED STORY, from 2018: Meet the new leadership behind the Fleetwood BIA.

In 2018, the Fleetwood BIA was getting its footing for the second time in its short existence.

The business group’s creation was spearheaded in late 2015 by Rick Hart, a man so involved in the community he was referred to as “Mr. Fleetwood.”

After Hart’s passing in the summer of 2016, following a brief battle with brain cancer, it took some time to find new leadership.

By February of 2018, as Fleetwood BIA president Sandeep Gill said at the time: “We’ve got a new direction, we have a strategy, we have a one-year plan, and we’re off the ground running.”

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In Newton, the BIA’s social media channels regularly post COVID19-related updates and information for business owners, including the Surrey Store to Door (SurreyStoreToDoor.ca) initiative that aims to connect Surrey residents with their local business community in a hub for online local shopping.

Philip Aguirre, Newton BIA executive director, has taken to Twitter to spread word about local businesses.

“Looking for a small business to support in these difficult times? @GrecoFoods Specialty Foods located in the heart of #NewtonBC needs your help! Small businesses are the heartbeat of our communities!” Aguirre posted on April 7.

“Small businesses like @OrganicGrocer_ need your support! Our #SurreyBC town centres are filled with family stores that are the heartbeat of the community.”

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