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Businesses bearing brunt of strike

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Local businesses are feeling the crunch now that the strike by some 450 Communications, Energy and Papermakers members here--and the layoff of other mill workers--is into its seventh week.

“Yes, [the strike] has definitely had an impact in the past 30 days,” Tony Beyak of Causeway Pontiac Buick Ltd. said yesterday. “Sales are down 20 percent.

“People are waiting to see how things turn out,” he added. “The one mill in Quebec isn’t on strike any more and who knows if the other ones won’t start up again soon?”

But Dr. Bruce Lidkea, president of the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce, stressed it wasn’t just the businesses that were feeling the purse strings tightening up because of the strike.

“People are being a lot more conservative in their spending,” he noted. “[The strike] affects everyone. If you’re not employed by the mill yourself, somebody you’re directly related to is.”

“When you take that much money out of the economy, it’s going to hurt everybody,” agreed Steve Lundon of the Northern Do-it Center here, noting sales of construction material haven’t gone down as much as walk-in sales have.

But not everybody felt there had been serious repercussions yet.

“If there wasn’t a strike, business might be better but . . . things have been quite good, and business has been brisk,” said Jim Jackson, owner of Sight & Sound on Scott Street.

“I just hope it’s settled by Labour Day. If it’s settled by then, things should be all right,” he added.

Paul Noonan, co-owner of La Place Rendez-Vous, also felt the traffic hadn’t dropped noticeably there so far.

“To be quite honest, there hasn’t been a noticeable change in the use of the restaurant and bar,” he said. “The numbers are about the same as last year.”

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