Something’s closing down Whitehorse businesses, but it’s not the global recession.
Fifteen Whitehorse businesses have closed down over the last six months, noted Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce president Rick Karp earlier this week.
The closures could be “symptomatic” of economically spooked Yukoners choosing to cut back on spending, said Karp.
“True, there are businesses struggling under the pressure of weak sales, but we still have a very strong business community in Whitehorse and the Yukon,” said a Whitehorse business owner in an open letter to the Chamber of Commerce.
“To suggest or imply that these 15 unnamed business are victims of the current economy is unfair to your current business membership,” it added.
A casual review of eight of the recent business closures suggests the letter writer is correct.
For example, Mackenzie’s RV Park will not be accepting vehicles this season. That’s a shame, considering RV bookings are up from last year, said Leo Boon, manager of Whitehorse’s Cruise Canada RV rentals.
Although US-based traffic may be down, Western Canadian RV businesses get 75 to 85 per cent of their clientele from Europe, said Boon.
Lured by comparatively low gas prices and a weakened Canadian dollar, Boon has needed to ship more RVs up from down south to prepare for the increased demand.
Another casualty statistic is Talmark Construction, which hasn’t renewed its business licence. But the decision was not prompted by a lack of business.
“We’re taking what the educated people call a ‘sabbatical,’ it wasn’t due to economic factors at all,” said Talmark Construction president Don Coates.
Among smaller contractors, business is still booming.
“But larger companies are actually quite slow right now,” said Coates.
A slowdown on southern construction has sent larger Alberta and BC contractors north to bid on the larger Yukon contracts.
The $16-million expansion of Erik Nielsen International Airport will be handled by an Outside firm.
Another local closure is the Whitehorse branch of Miller Thompson LLP, Canada’s ninth-largest law firm.
“It may very well be that, if they’ve got larger clients that are also national agents, they can equally serve them out of the Vancouver office,” said Melissa Atkinson, president of the Yukon branch of the Canadian Bar Association.
Wharf on Fourth shut down before the economic collapse due to a lack of salmon and halibut – their primary products.
Liquidation World was liquidated in November. Head office decided to axe the “unprofitable” Whitehorse store.
In times of economic decline, Liquidation World’s numbers will typically go up. More liquidations mean a broader range of product, and more layoffs mean more price-conscious customers, said Liquidation World CEO Jonathan Hill at the time of closure.
Shutting down the Whitehorse location was due more to poor management and geographic distance from Liquidation World warehouses.
Little Paws Daycare was forced to close after it faced eviction in mid-December.
“The lease was just too expensive,” said daycare director Andrew Robulack.
Business was steady, but daycare revenues simply can’t be expected to cover $12,000 a month for rent, he said.
Super Valu finally succumbed to years of sales declines resulting from lower prices at competing retailers Extra Foods, Wal-Mart and the Real Canadian Superstore.
Chief’s Steakhouse was struggling before the market crashed in October.
Still, with local banks reporting that chequing account deposits have gone sky-high, frugal consumers may very well be hurting local business sales figures.
Rounding out the oft-cited 15 local business casualties are Small Treasures Child Care, Haldane Environmental Services, Finishing Touches Woodwork, Ye Olde English Woodshop, Torigai Translation Services and two esthetics boutiques.
“Our economy is strong, and we should not be afraid to go out and spend a buck,” said Karp.
Contact Tristin Hopper at