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Some N.S. businesses still facing an uphill battle

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As businesses still recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and deal with the repayment of the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA), some are now also struggling with rising costs.

Ian Lawson, the co-owner of Brightwood Brewery in Dartmouth, N.S., announced last week he will be closing the taproom door permanently.

He says he is caught between mounting costs and dwindling revenue.

“It does seem like every year there’s a new pivot,” Lawson says. “There’s a change in the top demographics that we’re seeing, there’s a change in consumer spending habits [and] there’s a change in flavour.”

Lawson says, in order to make the brew, he uses premium ingredients and that has become expensive, especially since retail sales dropped at the taproom and at the liquor store -- a combination of the pandemic, high inflation and higher interest rates. Following that, there was the added pressure of repaying the COVID-19 loan.

Lawson says he is fighting to keep parts of the business alive.

“Right now, we’re trying to figure out the best kind of partnership, or possibly purchasers coming in, but you know nothing’s signed on the dotted line yet.”

Restaurants and bars in Nova Scotia are struggling. Among those to close their doors is Birch and Anchor along the Bedford Highway.

The Restaurants Association of Nova Scotia is anticipating more shut downs this year.

“About 62 per cent of restaurants are operating at a break even or a loss and we’re starting to hear of some bankruptcies, which we had predicted,” said Natasha Chestnut, the executive director of the Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia.

Chestnut says the national association is seeing double the bankruptcies across Canada this year.

She adds the profit margins in Nova Scotia aren’t enough.

“Restaurants are making four per cent profit, so if you think of that in terms of the customer comes in and they spend say a $100 at the restaurant, so $4 of that is a profit.”

Lawson will keep his taproom open until Sunday.

He says he is going to continue selling craft beer and pushing through these challenging times, all with the hope of reopening the taproom some time in the future.

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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