Heather Glowicki says her family business is hanging by a thread.
“Extremely rough, devastating in fact,” said Glowicki, co-owner of seven souvenir and gift shops on Government Street in downtown Vicotria.
Some of the most treasured items in her store are created by Indigenous artists from Vancouver Island.
“I see a lot of them having trouble selling art,” said Art Charlie, a sculptor and employee of Glowicki’s Northwest Origins Gallery and Gifts.
Charlie says he’s noticed a significant drop in Indigenous art sales since the pandemic hit.
“Not as much as before, without the cruise ships or the traffic and all that,” Charlie said.
Despite COVID-19 related restrictions set to be lifted in the near future, Glowicki is concerned that Victoria City Council’s recent decision to keep Government Street lower because the pedestrian crossing could harm his business and, by next, to indigenous artists who rely on tourists to buy their work. .
Glowicki’s main concern revolves around how the council’s decision will force cruise ship shuttles to now bypass its former stop at Government and Fort Street, stopping about 140 yards north at Government and View Street.
“The cruise ship shuttle movement has once again really rocked our world,” Glowicki said.
Glowicki says his store’s sales of indigenous artwork are down about 65% over the past two years and his business is largely dependent on American tourists.
“We really need a good year to be able to bounce back,” Glowicki said. “We are in danger of closing”
In a statement to CHEK News, Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said city programs including art, culture and street performances will be in place to help ensure passengers continue to venture into the south end of Government Street.
Regarding the potential negative economic impacts of the new shuttle stop on sales of local Indigenous art, Helps says there is currently no data to “substantiate this and it is only speculation at this time. “.
Glowicki plans to continue to fight Victoria Council’s decision. The cruise season begins on April 6.