Six days a week, for nearly 20 years, Anthony Seunarine and his father, Bobby, have been running London Cleaners, a tailor and dry cleaning shop inside the Loblaws Supermarket at Highway 2 and Liverpool Road in Pickering, Ont.
By now, the place feels like home, and their customers extended family.
“We have lots of customers that when we first opened the stores, they had babies in strollers and now their kids are in university and they’re still coming,” Seunarine told Global News one afternoon.
“We love being here, it’s part of our home.”
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But now, they’re in danger of losing their home. Seunarine says Loblaws closed one of two of its main entrances during the pandemic. It has remained closed ever since.
The problem is that the entrance also happens to be same doors Seunarine’s customers would walk through, and with no more foot traffic, Seunarine says business has gone down by 70 per cent.
“We’ve had to use savings, RSPs to get by, because we’re really committed to being here for our community,” said Seunarine.
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He says his parents have even had to sell their house to keep up with rent. But despite their sacrifices, Loblaws, Seunarine says, is refusing to reopen the entrance.
“I was told that they reserve the right to use this space as they see fit,” Seunarine told Global News.
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Seunarine says Loblaws offered to provide them with signage back in January to let customers know that they were still open.
“But we’re in August, and we still haven’t received them yet,” said Seunarine.
In a statement to Global News, Loblaws said,
“We understand the concern of the tenant and have made a number attempts over the past few months to find a solution, including adding in-store signage and promotion for this business, as well as support to unblock the external entrance to their store,” the statement read.
“To date, those efforts have not yet led to a resolution. We are committed to continuing to work with them toward a solution.”
Seunarine says those efforts aren’t enough.
“If the entrance isn’t reopened, we will lose our business,” said Seunarine. It’s an outcome his family cannot even begin to consider, he says.
“It’s quite simple to reopen a door,” said Seunarine. “We’re a small business and we’re trying really hard to get through the pandemic and I just hope [Loblaws] will reconsider.”
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