In June, as part of its Canadian Business Resilience Network campaign, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, through the generosity of Salesforce (NYSE:CRM), gave 62 small Canadian businesses from coast to coast to coast $10,000 grants to help their recovery efforts during these unprecedented times. Since then, grant recipients have been able to use the grant money to make changes that will help their business stay afloat amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Here is the story of Caribou Crossing & Trading Post from Whitehorse, Yukon.
Caribou Crossing & Trading Post offers guided tours around Skagway, Alaska and the Yukon. Caribou Crossing also hosts dog cart rides, a wildlife museum, tours of an active mine and shore excursions among activities. It’s a family-owned and operated business that caters predominantly to the cruise ship industry, which accounts for 95% of its sales revenue.
“Like many businesses the financial impact of the pandemic as been devastating as the Alaska Cruises cancelled for the season,” said Dale Colbran. “Unfortunately, businesses such as ours that rely on the travel industry and cruise ships specifically are likely to be one of the last industries to recover from the aftermath of COVID-19.”
As a result of COVID-19, Caribou Crossing was in a financial crisis as operations are seasonal with the months of May through September to earn an income.
“When we heard we were to receive the CBRN grant we were excited because it gave us an opportunity to create future growth and to create synergy with our existing business,” shared Colbran.
With the CBRN grant, Caribou Crossing has been able to create an RV campground to provide more space for recreational accommodation in Carcross, Yukon. The RV grounds are comprised of 30 acres of commercial land with 17 campsites.
“Our park is located a couple of kilometers outside of the rural village of Carcross, with a population of approximately 400,” said Colbran. “This town caters to the cruise ship industry also and most businesses have remained closed. By increasing traffic into the southern lakes area, and providing much needed RV camping, this investment will benefit other businesses and the community as a whole.”
The creation of the RV park provides Caribou Crossing with an opportunity for an increase in revenue in subsequent years as the cruise ship industry slowly rebounds. “The RV park is still in its early days but we have gathered attention from social media and road signage,” explained Colbran.
In addition to the RV campground, Caribou Crossing has been able to modify its coffee shop offerings to include Caribou Crossing Pizza for both take-out and dine-in while also acquiring their liquor licence to include off-sales.
“The future of our business will look different and will offer more options to people that combine tourism, foodservice models, excursions, cabin rentals, winter tourism, and other compatible industries for the site,” said Colbran.
To learn more about the CBRN Small Business Relief Fund and see the full list of grant recipients, visit the Small Business Relief Fund page.