A Calgary cafe in the heart of Kensington is facing the threat of closure. The Red Bush Coffee Company is a candy and coffee shop that’s struggling to survive.
Owner and operator Heather Ferguson has done whatever it takes to keep the doors open in spite of what she’s up against.
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“We’ve had so many road shutdowns and with the economy I’m just working hard to think outside the box,” Ferguson choked back tears. “Honestly it’s gotten very hard —; and I love my store and I really want to keep the doors open, [but] this is the last straw.”
Upstairs from the store is a wide open space she uses for free events. She hosts neighborhood movie nights and brings in aspiring artists and musicians. But the city’s business license inspectors say she doesn’t have the appropriate entertainment license to include those activities and is forcing them to stop.
“They’ve been brutal and very heavy handed.”
Ferguson says it’s too expensive and too timely to get the new addition to the existing license. She insists the city shouldn’t be so stringent on entrepreneurs who are working through the rough times.
“It’s just become laughable and I’m pulling my hair out,” Ferguson added.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) supports small businesses and says red tape is the number one gripe.
“When small businesses have to deal with silly regulations and the city enforces stringently in a ‘down economy’ it makes customers and in turn employees suffer,” Amber Ruddy with CFIB said.
Regular customers – who adore the place – said they’re frustrated a honest business is being treated like this.
Zelda Brennan goes to the Red Bush almost every day.
“We should all be supporting local business make it simple for them. It’s ridiculous really to put someone like that through the hoops.”
Ferguson said she’d be happy just to be breaking even and wonders if she can beat City Hall.
“I’m a lover not a fighter and I think this is going to one of those ‘for lease’ buildings. I think the outcome is not good.”