'NOT IN THIS TOGETHER ANYMORE': Small biz frustration boils over in T.O.

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One Toronto small business has put its frustration about the province’s COVID-19 restrictions on display in its front window.

Expo Vintage Clothing on Dundas West, which has only been open for about a year — pretty much when the pandemic started — put up a sign this past Monday that reads: “Hey Tory/Ford, why can Walmart sell clothing but we can’t!!!? We are NOT ‘in this together’ anymore.”

A second smaller sign says: “Shop local while local still exists.”

“We just got fed up with the big box stores having an unfair advantage over small businesses like us,” Expo’s owner, who didn’t wish to be identified, told The Toronto Sun.

“How they are able to sell TVs, computers and jeans and socks, and people like us can’t. And let me make it clear, we’re not anti-Walmart and anti-Costco. I’ve frequented those places. We’re just anti-bulls–t. It’s just not fair for businesses that are struggling, that they’re allowed to do this and we’re not,” the owner added. “I don’t want Walmart to close. I just want them to have rules in place that prevent them from selling things that are non-essential.”

Right now Expo Vintage Clothing is open just Thursday to Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. for curbside pickup with only a skeleton crew of employees working.

The owner said business is down about 80% for him on normally bustling Dundas St. W. and he has been able to take advantage of some of the federal programs.

When Toronto’s lockdown could potentially loosen up by March 8, he would love if he could reopen at just 25% capacity for customers with sanitizing, mask wearing and social distancing all in place.

“It’s getting to this feeling like they just don’t care,” says Expo’s owner. “And listen, like I’m not anti-mask or anti-COVID or anti-lockdown. I agree with lockdowns. But I want it to be a level playing field. I’m not trying to have a party in here. I think that having one or two shoppers in a store that’s like a thousand square foot, with a close eye on them, is not a place where COVID is spreading.”