VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – A long-time sports shop owner in Vancouver whose sales have been decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic and its cancellation of pro-sports is hopeful his business will bounce back with the return of the NHL.
Vancity Sports owner John Czvelka says overall sales have dropped 90 per cent during the health crisis.
Now, he’s looking to the Canucks for a little help.
“I’m hoping they’ll get off to a good start. They put some winning streaks together so people get excited and, hopefully, we’ll get some movement on our jerseys and hats, as well, so we’ll see what happens,” he tells NEWS 1130.
"I'm hoping they'll get off to a good start. They put some winning streaks together, so people get excited and hopefully, we'll get some movement on our jerseys and hats… so we'll see what happens."
—@sports_vancity's John Czvelka re: @Canucks return to #Vancouver. @NEWS1130
— Marcella Bernardo (@Bernardo1130) January 13, 2021
He notes sales did pick up in June, July, and August with the return of hockey for a modified version of the playoffs. However, he says they dried up again in the fall and have been quiet ever since.
“There’s no game-day traffic, there’s no people going to the game, there’s no people going to a pub to watch a game,” says Czvelka, whose shop is located in the area of Seymour and Dunsmuir.
He admits 2020 was definitely his worst business year, with so many people forced to work from home and avoid crowds.
“Downtown there is just not much happening. A lot of people are still working from home, office buildings are only 20 per cent occupancy, if that. Usually the lunchtime crowd, we just don’t have. Past 5 o’clock, there’s nothing going on downtown.”
Czvelka says with hockey returning, he’s hopeful people will begin buying merchandise again.
However, his priority remains keeping his staff and himself safe.
“There is no try-ons. They can purchase something and exchange it,” the kidney transplant recipient says, adding anything that’s returned will be isolated for 24 hours before it is steamed and put back out onto the floor.
“This is why we don’t let people walk around the store because we can’t see what they touch.”
He adds masks have been mandatory at his shop since June.
The Canucks’ first game is set for Wednesday at 7 p.m. against the Oilers. The games will be played without spectators.