While unpacking some mussels onto ice at her 1 Fish 2 Fish Fresh Seafood Market in Langley City, owner Heather Jenkins explained that she may not attend many in-person events at the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce but she still views her membership as worthwhile.
“I’ve been a member for 23 years,” Jenkins said, laughing.
“I think I’ve been to maybe two [in-person events]. I just don’t have the time.”
But the online seminars and other assistance the chamber provides get a thumbs-up from Jenkins.
“Some interesting topics,” Jenkins told the Langley Advance Times.
“And they’ve always had good resources.”
She has no plans to end or suspend her membership, as some of her fellow chamber members have due to the pandemic’s impact on the economy.
Her business is doing well, Jenkins said, so she doesn’t need to consider those kinds of cuts.
READ ALSO: Langley’s 1 Fish 2 Fish celebrating 20 years
While most Langley businesses appear to be weathering the storm, especially the larger operators, and new members are joining the chamber, the overall trend has been a slightly negative one, according to Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce secretary-treasurer Shaun Howe.
It is not the apocalyptic worst-case scenario where everyone stops buying, causing widespread business failures, Howe stressed.
What has happened, he said, is businesses are trimming their budgets by letting their chamber memberships lapse, or scaling them back to just insurance coverage through the chamber.
“The numbers are dropping, but not as much as a worst-case scenario,” Howe summarized.
In November, the most recent month figures were available, there were seven business people who joined the chamber, but another 15 who left or put their memberships on hold – what Howe described as a “small negative drop.”
“When people don’t renew, the question becomes why,” Howe said.
“You want to be in the positive, not the negative.”
Most of those businesses have told the chamber they are stepping back, temporarily, to preserve their cash flow and stay afloat.
“We’ll rejoin when business gets back to normal,” is what the chamber is hearing, Howe reported.
“They’re cutting their costs.”
“In a normal month, you’re going to have some new members entering and some [existing members] exiting,” Howe explained.
The fact that there are slightly fewer businesses joining than leaving is concerning, but no cause for panic, Howe maintained.
“It doesn’t look as bad as you might expect,” he concluded.
In fact, it’s encouraging because, among other things, it shows that most businesses have been able to keep their doors open despite the damage wreaked by the coronavirus, Howe said.
There have been a few surprises concerning which businesses have struggled and those that have prospered, Howe said.
For example, he observed, it was thought that doctors would be “crazy busy,” but the actuality was different with people reluctant to visit clinics, and surgeries on hold.
Dental businesses, on the other hand, quickly rebounded when their shutdown was lifted, “because everyone needs those procedures,” Howe noted.
Restaurant, hospitality, and hotels have been taking the biggest hit.
But the fact that chamber group benefits insurance is still being maintained by members and new members are still signing up is “encouraging,” Howe said.
“It’s a sign that a rebound will happen,” he predicted.
“When it does, the chamber will be there, waiting. The hope is that when we get back to normal, we’ll see the chamber rebound, the same as businesses.”
As well, business people, like Jenkins, still view the chamber positively, as a source of information that does valuable advocacy work.
Like its members, the chamber has had to adjust to the COVID-19 pandemic, with staff working from home and a shift to virtual meetings.
“All the in-person networking events are on hold,” Howe commented.
And, he said, they are missed by business operators who are are getting “tired” of teleconferences.
Is there more to the story? Email: email@example.com
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.