Transcription – English – Josh Shulman

04. Josh Shulman.mp4: Video automatically transcribed by Sonix

04. Josh Shulman.mp4: this mp4 video file was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the best speech-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors.

Josh Shulman:
I'm here because I was reached out to by somebody to participate in this, to share my story of how this has affected myself, my family, my business. And I think it's I think it's really important we as a country deserve some answers from the people in power as to why this all went down the way it did. I think this whole ordeal, no matter what your opinions are or beliefs are about the virus, vaccination, whatever, this has all been extremely traumatic on us as a as a country. It's really too bad. And the correct term would be owned Smuggler's Smokehouse because I, I made the decision my wife and I made the decision to close our doors and get out of.

Trish Wood:
Why did you do that, Josh? What happened?

Josh Shulman:
Well, I mean, it was a lot out of necessity. We could have made the decision to continue to take the government money, the loans, the grants, whatever you want to call it. We we probably could have continued to take that money, but there was no interest on our part to continue to go down that rabbit hole of. Take digging into the government coffers to try and continue to make it through this. You know, all the decisions that were made that were handcuffing our business, we're all out of our control. We were constantly just trying to adapt and the goalpost just kept getting moved on us and there was a real sense of no end in sight. And when we decided to call it quits and and make the moves that we did to get out of it, we were in a position where we could shut everything down, use the small amount of money we did have to at least pay off all of our all of our debts, all of our all of our business loans, and make sure everybody we had ever done business with was covered and we weren't leaving anybody hanging. And we could just we could just walk away. With with nothing left. I mean, I have I have absolutely nothing left at 37 years old, starting from scratch. And it's it has absolutely nothing to do with any business decisions we made can right up to the right right up to the beginning of this pandemic, we were on a completely upward trajectory.

Josh Shulman:
We were seeing growth in our business year after year. We had just added a second location at one of the local wineries. Our catering events list was growing and growing. And then. The switch got turned off. We were not allowed to have anybody sit in our restaurant. We had a very small space, a little bit of background on smugglers. My wife and I started it. We actually used a Go Fund Me fundraiser to help us start this business. So we were started with an overwhelming amount of community support. And we were we were tiny. We were we were small. I don't know the little train that that just tried, but we were also on a shoestring budget and it was just we had a five year business plan and this hit us in year three and a half. So we were right, right. Just about at the end of being able to cover everything and be in the clear with all of our business loans paid. And and then this hit us. And like I say, we lost our second we lost our second location. We lost all of our catered events for that year. I guess that would have been 2020.

Josh Shulman:
I've calculated that just based on the the deposits, we had to get back give back the catering events. We lost the lost revenue of the second location. You know, that was upwards of $200,000 just that year. And now that I don't even have a business to rely on, I mean, I don't even know how I would calculate the losses that this has cost me. My business would our business would still be going strong and likely would have for years to come. So how do you how do you put a dollar amount on that? And it was and we were hit from so many different aspects from the lockdown. It wasn't just, Oh, you can't have anybody in your restaurant. We weren't lucky enough to have a patio. So when the shutdowns happened, we were we were completely shut down. Our only option was either delivery, which we started offering free delivery in town via an e-bike that I have. But the majority of people, strong majority of people were using skip the dishes, which. As I'm sure most people know, that they take a really solid chunk of your revenue. So not only did we see a drastic loss in Dine in business and we saw an uptick in a form of revenue that actually generated less money for us. And then add in the fact that the media had individual people so frightened that every single one of my employees asked me to be laid off so that they could collect cerb and not be in the line of danger.

Josh Shulman:
So that just meant more work for me because now I had absolutely zero employees, but I had to keep going. I also manage a bike shop, which is luckily at the time it was right across the street from the restaurant that we had. So with the doors closed and only doing delivery, I was literally running back and forth across the street when an order would come in. So the whole thing just it was so stressful, it was so much work and it was all based on decisions that were out of our hands. So no daycare, you know, because all the daycares got shut down, too. So now my wife and I are dealing with running a business. No employees, no daycare, and we have to juggle it all. And at first I got to say, like, I totally thought like two weeks. I mean, this makes sense. If we can if we can all get together and do this, we do two weeks, we shut it down. But the shutdowns were so they were all half measures that actually never. As we all know now, at this point, they actually never stopped anything.

Josh Shulman:
And then they just continued them and continued and continued them. And then when they did let us reopen, it was at half capacity. So we were already a very small operation. I crammed almost 40 seats into a very small space, but it worked. It created a nice atmosphere. And when we reopened based on. Based on spacing and distancing as they regulated us to. I had less than 12 seats. So it was it was impossible to make money and then. You know, and then came along. It hadn't happened to that yet. We had decided to close our doors, but we were seeing it happen in other countries and it was very clear that this is what was coming and that was the whole vaccine passport thing. And I, I thought that was such an overreach of government power to make small businesses inquire about people's health status. It just it blew my mind. And then add in the fact that, yeah, so I have to be I have to I have to govern this and I have to police people's health status and, you know, to help this situation. But also, I came to the realization that I thought I was in the food business. I thought it was an independent business. I was a small business. But all of a sudden the government can just step in and tell me when I have to close my doors and what I can and can't do.

Josh Shulman:
I just yeah, it really scared me for the long term, you know. And I really feel for the girl in front of me who is doing a yoga studio and the fact that now we all live in this world where at any moment something could happen and the government is just going to swoop in and say, Oh, I guess what, you got to close. You can't operate. I don't we don't care about your livelihood. We don't care about how hard you're working. This is this is how it is. And it's all in the name of health and safety. Yeah. And then. As things opened up again, we got that short little window in British Columbia where we were able to open at half capacity. Patios were open. Like I said, we didn't have a patio, so that didn't help us. I couldn't get any of my employees to come back to work because Cerb was still paying them, and anybody I was able to find was extremely under, under qualified to do the job. And because of the small size of our business and the amount of employees we had, I didn't qualify for any wage subsidy. So it just it was a massive hill to climb.

Trish Wood:
So I'm going to I'm going to pass to the panel now and just say one thing, comment about what you said. And that is the while the moving of the goalposts, everybody seemed to be kind of down with it for a couple of weeks. And then they wanted more and more and more and more. And you could never predict. And do I do the renovation? Do I do I do that? Do I do this? And then they change it again. That's what I've heard from people for, for two years. So that must have been. Really, really difficult. When in the when did you realize that it was going to keep happening, that you felt it? You you couldn't rely on the status quo. And then I'll just pass to the past of the panel. At what point did you realize that they were going to keep locking down and keep.

Josh Shulman:
I think it I think it was fairly early on just paying attention to what was happening in other countries. I don't I don't have an exact date or a time frame, but it was definitely like just before they they told us that we could reopen the way that they told us, like, oh, we're going to be able to do this. And then hopefully by this time there was this they provided us with this timeline that they thought was going to work. But if you were looking at other countries around the world, those those timelines were never holding true. And it was.

Trish Wood:
Oh, sorry. Okay, panel, if you have any questions.

Preston Manning:
Well, thanks for doing this. Josh, I'm sure this is painful for you just to recount the story. And we'd like to say to other people that are watching this in a virtual mode, we need hundreds of stories like this being so big because they're out there and it's the cumulative impact of these things that is eventually going to have an impact on the political people. But my question, Josh, would be, was there any acknowledgement at all by the the provincial government, by your MLA, by the the city government, by any department of government, of what these health measures were costing a business like yours in terms of its future, in terms of its income, in terms of its employment. Was there any acknowledgement anywhere that this is what these measures have done to you?

Josh Shulman:
No, nothing. Not not that I've had any communications over. I, I haven't heard from I haven't heard from anybody in any positions of power. I haven't bothered to reach out to my MP or MLA because both of them have been. Very vocal about the need for the lockdowns and how it was all in the name of health and safety. So I never at no point did I ever feel like any of those people would be on would be on my side or be an advocate for for myself.

Preston Manning:
Yeah. Yeah. Okay. That's part of the problem.

Josh Shulman:
Yeah.

Dr. Susan Natsheh:
Ken, thank you for sharing your story. And I'm sorry about what you've gone through over the past little bit. From a health perspective, socio economic status is a primary determinant of health and well-being. And right here, I think we all the panel I'm speaking on behalf of the panel. We've all heard that you and your family have been severely impacted in this way. Could you comment briefly about how your family's health and well-being overall has been impacted? Like the repercussions outside the business? Or have you heard of anybody else in a similar situation that you could reflect upon?

Josh Shulman:
You know, I'm I'm I'm extremely lucky in the sense that the restaurant was a pet project on my behalf to really enable my wife to kind of live her dream of having a restaurant. I've been lucky enough to be in the bike industry, which you may or may not know, but has been on the other end of the trajectory where we've just been absolutely overwhelmed with demands. We've been extremely busy. So. I've I've been really lucky that my family has cycling in our lives. It has helped us with our mental health. We've stayed outdoors. We've stayed active. I have a great community in the bike community that has helped us stay grounded from a from a health and wellness perspective of my family. Yes, it's been difficult. There was some extremely high stress moments during it all. Lots of really difficult conversations with my son, who's ten. My three year old daughter is too young to understand it. She'll probably never remember. We had a restaurant as she gets older, but my son definitely will. Yeah, it's certainly been tough. It's been an exercise in in mental toughness and how to. How to continue moving one, one step at a time, one foot in front of the other, if you will. I know of other restaurant owners who have also had to had to do the same thing and pull the plug on their dreams. And I know of of other businesses who tried to vocalize their disagreement with with the whole vaccine passport situation.

Josh Shulman:
And it it cost them dearly. You know, I made the decision to kind of quietly oppose it by closing our doors and not participating in it. But I know more than a few business owners who who chose to stand on that that soapbox as they should. I mean, they had more balls than I did. To be honest with you. I mean, that that took guts to go out there and put your business on the line and say, no, this is wrong. You should not be asking us to check people's health status. You should not be segregating people based on. A medical procedure that has now proven to not stop the spread, not stop anything. It was all completely pointless. It created nothing but hatred towards the unvaccinated. It's segregated people for no reason. And those people took those people took the air that took gall to do that. And they paid dearly. Almost all of them lost their businesses. Some of them had to step down. They had to step away. They had to make it look publicly like they were no longer part of the business. Others lost their businesses completely. And then we're just lambasted on social media. And I mean, yeah, it's through this whole process. It's done nothing more than just hammer home my complete distrust of big government. You know, I never really trusted them in the beginning. But this this now is. Yeah, it's. It's it's too bad.

Trish Wood:
Thank you very much. Josh, I'm glad you're you're doing well, though. That's terrific that you've got another business. Thank you for speaking to us today. Yeah, very grateful.

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