Local businesses hit record sales during Canuck It Up weekend


By Jolene Perron


With the Canuck It Up Festival bringing in approximately 80,000 people through the town, local businesses are speaking out about the benefits to their sales.

Anne Rota, manager of tourism and culture for the town of Amherstburg explained they use a “square footage/people events formula” for free events and customer count in the businesses and museums to come up with their total number of people who visited the town.

“It was an opportunity to showcase what a magnificent, walkable, historic town we have,” said Rota. “People also commented on the accessibility of our town for special events. They appreciated that the programming was easy to get to and that it was worth the trip.”

Owner/operator of Gilligan’s Fire Grill, David Hayes, said August is usually his slowest month of the whole year, but this year is a completely different story.

“This weekend was the busiest three days I have ever had in the three years I have owned the restaurant,” Hayes said in a statement to Rota. “Visitors came in from out of town for the festival and said they will be returning for the food and the town in the future.”

Large crowds not only came to town for the Canuck It Up! Festival, but they also kept local businesses and restaurants busy.

Large crowds not only came to town for the Canuck It Up! Festival, but they also kept local businesses and restaurants busy.

The Waterfront Ice Cream Parlor had very similar results. After hearing about the numbers expected, and preparing by stocking up on ice cream, cones, spoons and napkins which took over their home, Jen and Justin DeLuca said they had a line up which stretched across the street and to the canons at the waterfront.

“It was very busy,” said Justin. “It was the busiest weekend we have ever had in our 38-year history. The tourism department in the town of Amherstburg really nailed it. They did a great job.”

The couple explained their staff, past and present, worked tirelessly over the weekend and “did a phenomenal job.” Even their 6-year-old and 9-year-old daughters were picking up napkins and cleaning tables.
Around the corner, Gabriel’s Deli had a line-up for four straight hours on Saturday.

“Saturday was unreal,” said owner Abe Elsayed. “I did enough sales for a week, just on Saturday. Sunday was a little bit slower, but overall the weekend was a success. I think I did well, everyone did well down here. I think we need more of this. People loved it.”

It wasn’t just the food businesses that saw the benefits of the festival. Shirley Wigle, owner of Our Place, said whenever a festival comes to town in the downtown core, the businesses along that stretch often see an significant increase.
“Our Place did very well, the festival was great,” said Wigle. “Whenever they do a festival and they don’t charge to come to the downtown core, we all do wonderful. The people can come through, they come through with their families, and it’s great. We did very, very well. Any time they put the barriers up, but they don’t charge people to come into the downtown core, we do awesome.”

Rota said given that this was Amherstburg’s signature event for Canada’s 150th birthday, the town has a lot to be proud of. From the people, to the businesses, the gardens, and the collaboration overall, we are “the little engine that could, and a force to the reckoned with.”

“Amherstburg is known for large scale events and between the hard work that comes from the volunteers and the support from various departments within the town, we come together and just gel to produce an authentic experience for our guests,” said Rota. “We treat our visitors like guests and they love it. Of course there are always some hiccups but planning in advance and checks and balances are key. We can build on that momentum to strengthen economic impact and a great place to want to live and do business in.”


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