Like many businesses across the world, Rebellion Brewing Co. in Regina has been impacted by the COVID-19 virus.
“Were just like every other local business right now,” said Rebellion president Mark Heise. We’re all trying to get through this together.”
Rebellion specializes in making a variety of craft beers and distributing them throughout Saskatchewan. They first opened their doors in Nov. 2014.
“I figured if I can make this beer at home then it’s going to be somewhat easy to do on a professional level,” said Heise.
The company’s name comes from rebelling against mainstream beer. The four co-owners of the company wanted to be one of the first to craft local beer in Saskatchewan.
They are constantly innovating new beers and have even won some awards for their flavours.
The effects of COVID-19 have hit Rebellion hard. They have had to close their taproom and rely on online orders for income.
“It has definitely impacted us,” said Heise. “Our taproom the whole sit down place where it has become that community gathering hub, no one can do that right now. So, unfortunately, we have no revenue coming out of there, which was about 30 percent of our revenue.”
As a result of that loss of revenue, multiple staff members were let go.
“We were up to about 28 staff and we had to lay off about half of them,” said Heise. “So we’re running about 14 or so. So that’s definitely been the most visceral way we’ve been impacted by it.”
We laid off most of our taproom staff today, but seeing so many friends stop by truly warms our hearts. This community rules.Stay cool everyone,
The decision to lay off staff members was made when the government mandated that all restaurants and bars be closed to the public.
“I mean, the writing was on the wall because everyone else was doing it too, said Heise. Obviously, we weren’t getting a whole lot of customers anyways so that was probably the hardest day we’ve ever had to deal with.”
The employees that were laid off are still part of discussions and emails Heise said.
Rebellion has seen progress in it’s online orders through pickups and delivery. Customers can pick up products directly from their store from Tuesday to Sunday from 12-6 p.m.
Our own Elyse ordered beer for home delivery – and you can too!
— Rebellion Brewing Co (@RebBrewRegina) March 27, 2020
Proper protocols are in place to ensure customers are safe when visiting in person. Only one person is allowed in the store at a time and they do thorough cleaning each day.
“The sales have been fantastic,” said Heise.
The lentil beer is their best seller.
“It was a pretty cool, unique, innovative thing, said Heise. No one else in the world was making a beer with lentils when we created the product.”
With regulations in place to encourage people to stay home, Heise called the online orders and delivery service convenient.
Gift cards have been another method of helping to keep Rebellion afloat. Customers can purchase gift cards on their online store.
“That week where we added the gift cards, our sales were like 100 times bigger than than the total sales up to that point (on the website),” said Heise.
Redvers resident Lana Shaw is one of those customers who bought gift cards during a time of need.
“It’s a great way for me to support them without coming into the city,” said Shaw.
“I see these local businesses as a priority that needs to be supported. People appreciate the quality of their products and services. They aren’t a franchise, they’re not just going to be reborn right away when this is all gone.”
I called and ordered gift cards from @RebBrewRegina taproom to support a favorite locally-owned business. They can mail them out to you.
If there are heavily impacted local businesses that you can afford to support and want to see survive, think about doing the same.
— Lana misses leaving her house 😓 (@LanaShawAg) March 17, 2020
“The support from the community has been overwhelming during this very emotional time,” said Heise.
With local restaurants and bars shut down it’s a great way to put some faith into a business.
“With gift cards for small businesses you’re putting some confidence into the idea that they’re going to survive this so that you can redeem your gift card when it’s over,” said Shaw. “It’s a bit of a risk that if they close down or go out of business then the gift card isn’t any good and you’re out some money.”
Heise was very thankful to see that the community has backed his company during this time.
“Its a great feeling and we certainly need the support, said Heise. I’m very optimistic for the future as a result of that.”
Heise is looking forward to having parties and getting the community together once again when he is allowed to do so.
For now, though, he is accepting this current state.
“I tell my staff that this is the new normal,” said Heise. “Obviously things will continue to change and flow over the next few years.”
SkyPark and Western Cycle Source for Sports both declined to comment on how the virus has affected their local businesses.
For another story on a local craft brewery in Saskatchewan read here