Social media: the local business lifeline during COVID-19

Jackie Wilkie, the owner and operator of 1205 Bakery & Deli is getting ready for another busy lunch rush
Photo by Karlie McGeough

With COVID-19 continuing to sweep across the prairies, Miyosiwin Salon and 1205 Bakery & Deli are two local establishments who have had to battle the unknowns of operating a business during a global pandemic.  

Regina’s Miyosiwin Salon is located at 1751 Broad St, in the core of downtown, and offers services ranging from hair care to beauty and spa treatments with a focus on Indigenous culture.  

Jennifer Dubois, the owner of the salon, said the initial closure of the salon back in March of 2020 was a huge shock and a learning curve for her.  

We needed to have an extremely tight budget on our finances because we didn’t know how long we were going to be shut down for,” said Dubois. I had to ask myself, What can we do in the meantime?’ 

We shifted a little bit, we focused on trying to sell our products online and deliver them just locally to people’s doorsteps. We were fortunate to be able to use our social media feeds to do that and to bring in some money while we were closed. 

This idea of using social media as a free marketing tool was not only used by Dubois. Many local business owners found themselves searching for new ways to maintain and build a customer base, including the owner of 1205 Bakery & Deli, Jackie Wilkie. 

1205 Bakery & Deli opened its doors in November and is located in Regina’s Warehouse District at 1205 Broad Street. The business offers homemade paninis, soup, salad and baking.  

Wilkie has worked in the restaurant business her whole life, but when the pandemic started, she decided to take a leap of faith and venture out on her own.  

“I was a server for 20 years at Golfs Steakhouse and then when COVID hit, I thought maybe I’ll try something on my own,” said Wilkie. 

 “My husband Barry found the space where we are and we decided that Regina needed a homey, soup-and-sandwich kind of place.”  

Wilkie said so far the support has been incredible, but social media has been a huge business boost.  

 “Everyone that comes in, if I say to them ‘How did you hear about us?’ They say Facebook, Instagram or word of mouth,” said Wilkie.  

Wilkie believes social media does attract initial customers, but she said it is their great food that keeps customers coming back.  

“I have had people come in saying they have been looking for a good cinnamon bun for years and say they have finally found it,” said Wilkie. 

Meanwhile, Dubois said shifting her business to social media during the shutdown was one of the main reasons they were able to open their doors back up when the stay-at-home restrictions were lifted.  

While social media has provided Miyosiwin Salon and 1205 Bakery & Deli the opportunity to open their doors and keep them open, both Dubois and Wilkie are thankful for the support of their customers and simply the fact they are choosing to shop local.  

“Having loyal customers is important anytime but what I think is most important through a pandemic is local support. Shopping local is a big thing and is so important,” said Dubois. 

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