Calgary construction threatens Chuckles, a family-run costume shop
Owners say customers can’t reach the store, sales dropped by half
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The laughs are getting harder to hear at Chuckles Costume Shop – drowned out by the cacophony of construction outside their front door.
Located just across from Chinook Mall, Chuckles has been in Calgary for three decades. Fifteen years ago, ownership passed to Dave and Bernadette Fletcher, a former IT consultant and dental assistant, who have ridden the ups and downs of the business.
Now, Chuckles is in danger of closing its doors for good.
Dave Fletcher said the construction, meant to widen the sidewalk and improve infrastructure, has resulted in more than a 50 per cent drop in profits. He had braced himself for the recession, but not for this.
“When they closed the road, we just dropped,” he said. “We’re tracking about half or less than last year. This being our busy time of the year, it’s going to be tough to pay the bills. We’re not sure. We’ve got two weeks left – our biggest two weeks of the year, so we’re just not sure what we’re going to end up with.”
Fletcher said the roadwork on 61 Ave SW has prevented foot traffic from the LRT from reaching them – what used to be a crosswalk away turned into a 10 minute trek to get into the store.
When construction began at the end of May, he was told it would be done by Sept. 4. Now he’s being told it could be ongoing until December, or later, depending on the winter weather. It might not be a situation the family-run business can survive.
“I love it here,” said Fletcher’s daughter, Krystine Wilson. “I mean, the thought of not having it is pretty hard. It’s amazing to be able to work with your family and we love our customers and love our store.”
Fletcher said in the time he’s run the shop, he’s been honoured to have great customers, and even better employees. He often employees artists who run their own makeup businesses on the side, or comic book fans who draw independent works at home and are knowledgeable about the characters.
“You come in with an idea, and we’ll make it worth your while,” he chuckled. “Don’t come see us because we’re having a tough time – come see us because we’re the best in town.”