South Surrey real estate agent Derek Thornton is taking his open house offerings to Facebook live in an effort to keep business going during the pandemic. (Facebook screenshot)

Pandemic sparks creative business moves in South Surrey/White Rock

Virtual open houses, gym-equipment rentals among options launched

As the COVID-pandemic continues, more people on the Semiahmoo Peninsula are getting creative in an effort to also keep their business as healthy as possible.

Last week, the owner of The Carvery Sandwich Shop told Peace Arch News that steps including social-media posts ensuring the public of disinfection measures being taken in high-traffic areas of his shop made a world of difference to his business.

READ MORE: South Surrey restaurant finds success amid COVID-19 ‘panic’

This week, a local real estate agent says he is changing the way he’s holding open house events, by taking them to Facebook.

“This weekend for the first time ever… I will be hosting a virtual open house,” Derek Thornton explains in a March 18 Facebook live post. “I’m actually going to have 10 open houses, all at the same time.”

In an email to PAN Thursday morning, Thornton explained that he chose the virtual path because “I was struggling to continue business within the current environment.”

“Until further notice, this is how I will be conducting my open houses,” he said.

Just after noon on Thursday, officials with the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver issued a news release stating the board is “strongly recommending” against open houses, “after an assessment of the latest information and commentary from public health and other government authorities.”

REBGV has also removed the rule requiring that properties listed on MLS be made available for showings, the release states.

Thornton said in his Facebook video that he plans to “have a little bit of fun” with his ‘premiere’ open house, which is set to go live on Sunday at 1 p.m. He’ll also be available to answer questions about the market, etc.

While private viewings can be arranged, the “necessary precautions” will be taken, he told PAN.

Thornton also told PAN he’s hearing that other steps include requests for limited showings, mortgage brokers working remotely via Skype/Facetime and lawyers/notaries limiting access to their offices “as best as possible.”

Other business owners putting a new spin on operations include Hardeep Brar and Brenda Dhillon of Spinhouse South Surrey and Spinhouse Fleetwood.

In a news release, the owners said while they made the “very hard decision” to close their doors as of March 15, in an effort to help members “continue to get their sweat on” during the pandemic, they are now renting out their bikes to members.

“It’s been a whirlwind this past week, but we essentially changed our entire business model to adapt and do something positive for the community,” Dhillon told PAN by email.

In the first four days, bikes, instructor-led videos, cycling shoes and weights were rented out to 65 members, and a waitlist to continues to grow, the release notes.



tholmes@peacearchnews.com

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