Despite the notion that crises are bad times to launch businesses, a 2009 study by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation found 57 per cent of Fortune 500 companies surveyed at the time were founded during recessions or bear markets.
“Crises like these are the Super Bowl of entrepreneurship,” says Dr. Brock Smith, entrepreneurship champion at the University of Victoria’s Gustavson School of Business. “If you can figure out how to survive something like this, you’ve earned your so-called stripes.”
That’s because the entrepreneurial mindset says, “this is a challenge,” according to Smith, who notes how impressed he has been with the resiliency, vision and positive attitude of local entrepreneurs during the COVID-19 crisis.
Resiliency has certainly been at play for the team behind Urban Grocer, which began planning its flagship store on Fort Street and Oak Bay Junction two years ago and found themselves in the middle of a pandemic just months before opening to the public.
While COVID-19 did slow the process, at no time was there any thought to halting the launch of the 10,000 square foot grocer, says General Manager Shawn Fahr of Urban Grocer, whose ownership team has been in the grocery business on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands for more than 50 years and owns Vessel Liquor Store.
“We’ve stayed optimistic,” says Fahr, whose team will open Urban Grocer at the beginning of August. “Maybe it’s not the best time, but we are really passionate about providing this neighbourhood with a quality grocer.”
“If you are a creator, there’s never been a better time,” says Smith. “What happens is
we have a unique set of circumstances that provide entrepreneurs with a unique set of opportunities. Necessity really is the mother of invention.”
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