High River is open for business
Economy: Sprung sprung into action to get venue completed for big weekend
By: Bruce Campbell
| Posted: Wednesday, Oct 02, 2013 09:18 am
Yvonne Kohlenberg never thought she would be selecting her fall fashions from a tent.
However, as she perused the dresses at Creative Accents at the grand opening of the temporary businesses site in High River on Friday, she couldn’t have been more delighted.
“I wanted to come in here and see what they have — I want to shop in High River,” Kohlenberg said. “I haven’t shopped much for clothes since the flood — I hate going to the city to shop. I want to shop where I live.”
She had the chance on Friday as 21 businesses, ranging from restaurants, bridal shops, art stores, book stores and a barber shop are in temporary homes along the Rotary Park on First Street SW.
The majority of the businesses are in a 200-foot liner Sprung tent, which has been divided into 12 sections for the various venues.
Sprung, located near Aldersyde, sprung into overdrive to get the project completed by Sept. 29 so the businesses could be open for the thousands of visitors converging on High River for the Canadian Hot Air Balloon Championships, Culture Days and the River City Show ‘n’ Shine, said Angie Groeneveld, High River business renewal officer.
“I kept calling this my own little Calgary Stampede,” Groeneveld said. “That Sprung structure usually takes 90 days to erect and they had it done in 21 days. They were working 24 hours to get it done.
“I had to have it done by last weekend because I knew the traffic flow would be the largest retail day in High River.”
“When I explained that to Sprung they set up and did it.”
The food services outlets, Alta Vito Ristorante and Highwood Catering, are using kitchen camp units which came from Royal Camps Services.
“We got hold of Larry Pickett in Okotoks and he is at Royal Camps,” Groeneveld said. “We told them we needed them in two weeks and they did. They were fantastic.”
All of the High River businesses have been displaces since June 20 when the now peaceful Highwood River breached it banks and ravaged the downtown core and other businesses. It was a knockout punch, but the businesses are starting to get off the canvas.
Joanne Austen of Austen Jewellers said it was important for the store to open again. She said many residents were concerned the long-time High River jewellers had left town after setting up shop in Okotoks.
“Setting up in Okotoks was something we had decided to do long before the flood,” Austen said. “We just didn’t let people know out of courtesy of the previous owner having a sale. We did not ever plan to leave High River. This is home — I have now lived here longer than any other place in my life.”
She said business was good on the weekend, despite the fact they are not yet carrying the high-priced items because of insurance issues.
The books, clothes and knickknacks were flying off the shelves like something out of a Harry Potter novel at Pixie Hollow..
“It was super-fantastic,” said Pixie Hollow co-owner Sandy Rowley. “It was really nice to see our customers again and they all seemed happy to be here.”
She added she was glad to be back at work rather than worrying about the damage at her permanent location, ironically located nearly right across the street from her temporary store. Rowley said due to space limitations they weren’t able to get their full stock in, but more will be added during the week.
Although she was thrilled with the business, Rowley admits she is concerned about November.
The businesses will receive two months free rent, after which they will pay about $500 month. The goal is to get them home as soon as possible.
“We don’t want to be competition for the landlords,” Groeneveld said. “They are working fast to get their locations up and going. As spaces become available we will be booting these guys out to keep the economy going. Our tenants all know that and they want to go back.”