The owner of Edmonton Cash Register Co. Ltd. has sold the building and moved the business to a smaller location amid financial constraints and high crime rates following the COVID-19 pandemic.
The business — previously located at 95 Street and 104 Avenue — is now located at 7252 101 Ave. The new location is a rental property. It sells point of sales system, stand alone cash registers, scales, money counter, time clock and paper.
Owner, operator and Boyle Street Community League president, Thim Choy, bought the old building in 1973, three years after arriving in Canada. He was 22 when he landed in Edmonton, with only $14 in his pocket.
‘No common sense’ for small business to operate anymore
Choy said starting a business back then was cheaper, saying that hikes in taxes and operational costs make “no common sense” anymore.
“Everything has gone up so drastically. It’s not even funny,” he said. “I own the building and then I still have to pay the utilities, the utilities have gone up. We used to pay about $4,000 and now we got to pay $40,000.”
He added the mentality of people and employees has also changed after the pandemic.
“It’s hard to even get employees to work nowadays, because the government gave them money during the pandemic.”
High crime rate affects operations
Meanwhile, Choy said the rate of crime has gone up in the inner city where he owned the building, citing the May 2022 killings of two businessmen who were stabbed to death in Chinatown.
He said although the stabbing was not targeted, the police could have been more proactive. According to him, the accused attacked the businessmen in retaliation, after being beaten by police officers. He said the crime happened “at the wrong time and the wrong place.”
“If that guy would be released in any other area, there will just be one of those things which happens to the community, but as far as I’m concerned, the crime rate is getting higher and higher,” he said.
He said a building he owned across the road from his business was offered to the church to make soup and help the unhoused. The building was damaged by fire around 10 years ago, but he could not afford to restore it.
“Nobody got a good heart to come forward. And then they moved to where my building is right now in the parking lot,” he said.
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Community leader helping unhoused
For more thand 35 years, Choy has been helping the unhoused around the old business’s location. However, swapping locations isn’t going to stop him from doing so, as helping people gives him joy.
“I help them, I feed them. Nothing is happier than when you are hungry, you get a meal before you go to bed. We, our group, (The House of Refuge) got the soup kitchen in our building,” Choy said.
Choy has won multiple awards, including the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal to honour his significant contributions to the community; however, he says offering a helping hand and being a people’s person is what motivates him.
“The award doesn’t mean anything to me. Back in 1970 I helped the Alex Taylor school to feed the kids so that they come to school and learn better when they are healthy,” Choy said. “The common sense is when people need help, you give them help.”