Client spotlight: How a creative approach helped Crew Rowhouse ride out the lockdown

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit some industries harder than others. Gyms and fitness studios in particular are struggling due to tighter measures in place for those facilities.

Lorne Prefontaine is the owner of Crew Rowhouse in Saskatoon. The fitness studio offers rowing classes and high intensity interval training classes that combine rowing, strength and resistance training in 45-minute workout.

To help them get through the lockdown and mandated reduced class sizes when they did open up again, Prefontaine applied for a loan from Clarence Campeau Development Fund (CCDF). CCDF helps Métis-owned businesses thrive by providing funding and capacity for both new and existing businesses.

Prefontaine said the loan “lessened the sting” of keeping up with monthly expenses with little revenue.

Prefontaine said that currently, their income is about 50 per cent of what it was pre-pandemic.

“It’s worst case scenario but at the same time, we’re making the best of it. We’ve come this far and we plan to keep on going.”

They opened their doors in August 2018. In their first year of business, they saw good growth, and their second year was slated to be their biggest yet. They were finalists for the NSBA Small Business Award. In March, they had a partnership with the Juno Awards, which were coming to Saskatoon.

When the pandemic hit, though, they closed their doors early, on March 15.

“We didn’t feel comfortable having the fitness studio open with such unknowns, so we temporarily closed our doors and froze all our clients’ memberships,” Prefontaine said. “Unfortunately, that meant no revenue coming through. But we knew it was the right thing to do.”

A week later, it was mandated that all fitness studios and gyms close, along with many other public-facing businesses.

They needed to pivot. So they rented out all of their rowers.

They used some of the funds from the rentals for random acts of kindness for first responders, and posted online workouts weekly, too.

Prefontaine is optimistic about the future; they’re still actively looking to open a new location in 2021.

“This isn’t going to take us down,” he said.


About the Clarence Campeau Development Fund

The objective of the Fund is to stimulate economic development activities of Métis people and communities. As the first stop for Métis entrepreneurs and communities in Saskatchewan, we leverage relationships with funding partners, industry, and communities to meet the evolving needs of Métis businesses.

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