Adjusting to a COVID kind of world

COVID-19 is forcing businesses to reinvent themselves. Video: Brianna Dugan.
The empty cafe and restaurant strip along Albany Highway Vic. Park. Photo: Brianna Dugan.

As the effects of COVID-19 are sweeping through Australia, businesses in Victoria Park are struggling to stay afloat.

Owner of The Sparrows Nest Café Lara Wolinski has had to adapt to a new way of operating due to coronavirus.

“We’ve had to adjust from being a fully-functioning café for seven years, to now serving patrons outside and only doing takeaway,” says Ms Wolinski.

“We have a full breakfast and lunch menu…not everything can be wrapped as a takeaway. It’s hard to adjust the menu to accommodate this…it’s even harder to do it within a few hours’ notice.”

The Sparrows Nest isn’t the only business along the Albany Highway strip that has had to drastically adjust the way they operate.

Many businesses have had to close their doors and let go of staff as a means to survive.

“I had about 13 employees. All of whom live out of home, pay rent and study full time. It was heartbreaking to have to call them and say that there are just no more hours left to give,” says Ms Wolinski.

The Sparrows Nest before COVID-19 restrictions. Photo: supplied.

Owner of The Eclectic Squirrels Ronhhda Potter has also felt the effects of COVID-19 on her vintage homeware business.

“We tried to stay open but it was just too difficult and disheartening … so we’ve closed our doors and are now utilising social media platforms to promote online delivery,” says Ms Potter.

“When we first heard of the restrictions we were in shock, then denial and now we are just trying to be positive and get through this.”

Amid all the gloom, the Victoria Park community has rallied together to create a Facebook page Support Our Strip that comprises almost 3000 members.

The page is designed to connect local businesses which are staying open with members of the community.

Ms Wolinski says she has seen a tremendous amount of support from local residents, with most of them attempting to eat out several times a week to keep businesses alive.

“It really has made a difference. I am getting customers I’ve never seen before … they all come from Support Our Strip and just want to help really.”