Gympie business owners ‘heartbreaking’ decision

“HEARTBREAKING” is how Katie James describes having to let all her casual staff go because of the travel ban and restrictions imposed as a reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“I had some customers decide to keep their bookings, because they decided to holiday interstate instead of overseas, but now they’ve closed the boarders, they’ve had to cancel,” the owner of the award winning Amamoor boarding kennel b’ARK, said.

Ms James, whose boarding kennel is also a grooming salon and doggy-daycare venue said she has had “a lump in my throat” since the lockdowns began last Wednesday.

Katie James.
Katie James.

“I know that this is all out of my hands and not my fault, but you can’t help but feel responsible for all the people that work for you,” she said.

While the kennel is the core of the business, she did say she is thankful to have the other sidelines but the full repercussions are still to be realised.

“We’ve been highly impacted. It’s a very stressful time indeed,” she said.

Katie James.
Katie James.

She said she has had to reorganise shifts to try and spread the work around among her permanent staff.

“The permanents are taking annual leave and unpaid leave and they are sharing hours to try and drag it out,” she said.

All up around a dozen staff members have been affected between b’ARK at Amamoor and her other grooming businesses in Maroochydore and Hamilton.

Katie James at B'Ark
Katie James at B'Ark

She is also looking to diversify the grooming and daycare aspects of the business to generate work while trying to accommodate dog owners and meet all COVID-19 guidelines and will look into the possibility of dog-walking services for those who are self isolating.

“We’ve just introduced a pick-up and drop-off service,” Ms James said.

The business, formerly known as Katie’s Ark, has been running for five years and Ms James said she’d worked hard to build the business up into a successful venture.

“We’ve huge taken steps these last five years to build the business up, and to pay off all our business loans and credit cards and that’s going to minimise the impact. Hopefully we won’t go too far backwards,” she said.

Katie James.
Katie James.

But the stress of the situation is something that is weighing heavily.

“It’s an emotional rollercoaster and some days I’m in tears, just thinking about it.

“We’ve got a great reputation and provide a good service and I know the customers are there. Hopefully we can come back and be better than ever,” she said.

Gympie Times

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