Restaurants are down as well
Editor’s Note: The Tribune published an article last week about some of the local impacts of the COVID-19-induced border closure between the United States and Canada. This is a look at a specific business known for selling to both local and visiting Canadian customers, Edaleen Dairy.
WHATCOM — In recent months, the unusual U.S.-Canada border closure has changed the local community in different ways. For years cars with Canadian license plates have made their way south through the border to U.S. stores to purchase items such as gas and dairy products.
Now they aren’t — and haven’t since the border closure on March 21 to non-essential travel. The closure continues at least Aug. 21 when it will be revisited, and possibly extended again — some reports say for all of 2020.
Shopping is not considered an “essential visit.”
Lynden-based Edaleen Dairy is one of those businesses impacted. After temporarily closing some of its locations, they are now open for business.
“Along the border is where we’ve seen the most significant impact,” said Mitch Moorlag, general manager of operations Mitch Moorlag. “Our three stores along the border have decreased in sales (compared to last year) by approximately 65 percent.”
Those stores are the original one on the Guide north of Lynden, one on Cherry Street in Sumas, and another in Blaine also just blocks from the border.
Other locations are in Lynden and Ferndale, and the newest in Fairhaven.
Edaleen product is sold throughout Washington and western Oregon. In addition to making ice cream and processing milk to sell at its own stores, Edaleen supplies distributors in western Washington that then sell and deliver to restaurants. “Their volumes are definitely down, but I’m not sure how much is due to restaurant decline,” Moorlag wrote.
In moving forward, Edaleen is focused on health and safety but did make several layoffs.
“The obvious way we have changed as a company is by following all health and wellness protocols necessary to keep all of our staff and then in turn their families safe,” he said. “We then have dramatically increased cleaning and sanitizing at all of our store locations, our processing plant and also at our dairy farm. We have unfortunately had to lay off six employees that were working at our border stores. We currently have approximately 120 employees overall at Edaleen with about half of those full-time.”