I moved to Fredericton on an unbearably hot Friday in August.
I spent all day lugging boxes into my apartment building, and attempting to assemble the few pieces of furniture that I had. My parents are familiar with Fredericton, and they were eager to visit the Farmers Market the following Saturday morning.
In all honesty, I was exhausted, cranky and could not be bothered with anything other than unpacking and, subsequently, complaining about unpacking. But, they were persistent.
The market quickly became what I looked forward to each week. I loved the easiness of browsing the outdoor stalls for fresh fruit and vegetables, grabbing a cold brew and spending the morning dawdling about downtown.
I love a good croissant so, naturally, Milda’s Pizzas and More became one of my go to stalls. I haven’t had the pleasure of visiting their location at the Charlotte Street Arts Center, but I always make an effort to visit them at the market.
When the threat of COVID-19 began to escalate, and things started to close down, I realized the consequences that would affect a multitude of local businesses. A state of emergency means shutting down to the public and, potentially, shutting down for good.
Milda’s recognized the potential threat to their patrons, and converted their storefront to solely take out and delivery prior to the state of emergency being announced. Not only did this impact their business on an economic level, but also on a psychological one.
“No gentle hum of human voices, laughter and screechy kids—sounds we weren't too fond of before, but now miss greatly,” Milda Titford said. She explained that the restaurant is, “not surviving. It's like being on a life support machine, whilst floating in a bed thrown into a stormy ocean.”
Milda’s made the difficult, but necessary, decision to lay off their entire staff, but stressed the uncomfortability of social distancing. They described this decision as the “most painful move” that they had ever experienced. They recognized that they were letting their workers go without a safety net, equating it to “placing all your kids in an aircraft with not enough fuel and sending them off. It’s awful.”
As a small business, there are minimal measures available from the government outside of loans, which would carry a hefty rate. Business owners aren’t allowed to draw Employment Insurance, and there’s no guarantee that all employees make enough hours to draw either. Titford feels that support from the community is what has kept them going this long.
“People send us really kind messages and are supporting us by ordering take outs and deliveries.”
There are many unknowns right now, both for Milda’s and the community as a whole, but the best way that we can support our local businesses is to invest in them. So, order from a local restaurant, share a post on Facebook, and give back in any way that you can manage.