After being laid off at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, three Calgarians came together to do what others would find daunting: open a new business.
Instead of giving up, a new idea took hold for hair stylists April, Shelley and Amanda when they decided to open their own hair salon. Rootbar will specialize in one-hour luxury services tailored to Calgarians’ busy lifestyles. They say opening a new business during a global pandemic was daunting, but the process was made easier because of quick and helpful interactions with The City of Calgary.
“It was a big concern because of the time frame, we thought we were going to be delayed, but The City really stepped up and surprised us. It was fantastic,” said Shelley Breitkreitz. “When you have all these people hired and ready to go, you have to do things very quickly.”
Once they contacted the City, any concerns about delays in obtaining permits, a business license, applications and inspections disappeared. “All of our inspections happened very quickly,” April Brown said. The City’s online chat and business hub website means sorting through the required permits and steps online is easy.
And while they didn’t visit the planning service desk inside the Municipal Building to speak face-to-face with clerks, the process was anything but remote, April said. “It was actually very easy, and people were very friendly. Everyone goes above and beyond to make it personal. It was really great.”
If business owners prefer to apply in person, they can still visit the counter with Plexiglas to separate people for safety.
Because Rootbar was conceptualized during the pandemic, they were able to adapt the design of their space to physical distancing, the mask ordinance and exemptions.
Shelley has words of encouragement for other entrepreneurs considering opening a business.
“There is no better time than now. As big as it was, we knew we had the dream team to make something great happen, to make people feel good and reassure them that things would be okay.”
The City’s Business Sector Task Force is supporting businesses through COVID-19 by serving as a conduit to the business community to share their immediate needs and find solutions. In 2020, various development and construction permit fees waived for customers equaled more than $2.26 million, with deferred fees of more than $2 million.
“Supporting Calgary’s businesses is key,” says Sonya Sharp, leader of business and local economy. “It is important for the City to prioritize business needs at the moment because local businesses form the fabric of our community and many of them have been hit hard during the pandemic and will continue to face challenges. The City is focused on being business friendly over the long term, but we are also trying hard to be quick and nimble to help those entrepreneurs who are innovative so they can come back from the pandemic faster.”
The City reduces barriers, time and costs to enable business owners’ success. We’re making improvements to make it easier for business owners to apply for permits and licenses online through the myBusiness virtual hub, and get the answers you need through online chat, email or phone.
And we’re encouraging Calgarians to shop local to support stores and services through our #SupportLocalYYC campaign.
We offer live chat at calgary.ca/livechat, or you can contact us through the Planning Services Center at 403-268-5311, Monday to Friday 8am-4pm
Visit calgary.ca/mybusiness to learn more about what supports are available to you and your business.
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