WATCH: In Port Alberni, A bookstore owner says A neighbouring overdose prevention site is hurting his business. Island Health authorized the site a year and a half ago but the shop owner says it’s forcing him to close down. Kendall Hanson reports.
Deja-vu Books is normally closed Sundays and it’s just a matter of time before the store will close forever.
The owner says their customers have been dwindling since an Overdose Prevention Site became a neighbour one and a half years ago.
“It’s terrible,” says Gary Knutson, the store’s owner. “I definitely feel victimized.”
Knutson has owned the book and second-hand store for 11 years.
While he says it’s never been a big money maker sales were stable until the Overdose Prevention Site opened.
“Within a period of three to four months our sales we found were down to about half of what they were previously,” said Knutson, who said they’ve never rebounded.
He suspects the chance of running into someone who’s just gotten high has frightened off his customers who are normally older and/or women.
“That’s taken us right out of the picture of profitability or even covering costs,” said Knutson.
A neighbouring restaurant owner says they haven’t been impacted by the OD prevention site but they are also a different business, that’s open longer hours.
“It’s sad to see them being impacted in that way,” said Bob Narang, owner of Granny’s Chicken. “I wish that wasn’t the case.”
Island Health says the overdose prevention sites were quickly put into place to deal with the opioid crisis.
And while they’ve been successful in preventing people from dying and getting a substantive number into rehab. There have been some unintended consequences they want to examine.
“How can we restructure and perhaps do business a little bit differently so that the impact in surrounding areas can be reduced?” asked Dr. Paul Hasselback, the region’s Medical Health Officer with Island Health. “That’s a conversation we need to have with all our sites, not just Port Alberni.”
But any changes likely won’t come soon enough to save the store.
“When we do finally shut our doors we have a building with much more limited sale potential and the price is likely to be impacted,” said Knutson.
Which means no Disney ending in the final chapter for Deja-vu Books.