A business that opened just one year ago, Ayana Wellness Centre, on Virden’s Seventh Ave. has had to close its doors under the COVID-19 pandemic safety measures imposed throughout Manitoba and most of the world. Now, it looks like Virden and two families stand to lose.
Business owner Zoey Jebb said in an interview, “My business partner and I are both looking at our options as we are personally liable for the loss so this is far greater reaching than just the business. Two families have lost their investments and are forced to start over.”
Canada-wide, economic help was offered to businesses to meet their payrolls and pay some other costs such as rent, while closed, however, Zoey Jebb’s small wellness business did not meet the criteria.
Jebb, a Bodywork therapist, had help from her business partner in remodelling a storefront on Virden’s downtown. They created a beautiful space where the science of relaxation for mind and body was designed as a means to wellbeing.
Jebb’s sister, Alyssa Eisner, experienced in business management, was her only staff.
“This is not something anyone was prepared for and we fell through the cracks I guess.” – Zoey Jebb
Early on, after the initial COVID-19 closings, Jebb posted on her Ayana Facebook page, “The services offered at Ayana are designed to help in the health and wellbeing of the community and I will do my best to get you access to them! Thank you so much for all the overwhelming support I have received. It has truly helped get me thru.”
Jebb’s business began opening in stages and by November 2019 it was fully open, but still in the client-building stage. Three months of being shut with no financial assistance has taken its toll.
Jebb explains, “We did not qualify for any aid at the start. They did expand the $40,000 loan… to include smaller businesses but another loan to cover all the down time is not going to help a new business that is just opening their doors and is not allowed to operate.”
With the draft of Phase 2 re-openings announced last week, although RTM (therapeutic massage) may be allowed, there was no re-opening date given for massage chairs, the bulk of Jebb’s health facility. She said that could be many weeks away.
On May18 Jebb posted: “Due to COVID-19, current Government restrictions and no future re-opening date set as of yet, we have made the very tough decision to close Ayana Wellness Spa permanently.”
She told the Empire-Advance, “It's really been a hit and although I tried to contact a number of government employees, we really just weren't offered any help. This is not something anyone was prepared for and we fell through the cracks I guess.”