Ninth and Brick: curating community

Walking in to Ninth and Brick in the heart of historic Inglewood, you immediately notice the unique, quality handcrafted items on offer, made with love, ingenuity and a hint of nostalgia. Owner Gerri is an old soul that perfectly complements the warmth of the shop surroundings, set in a century old building, with creaking wood floors and walls that whisper timeworn stories. And, just as The City of Calgary is keen to support small business through the economic downturn and the unpredictable COVID-19 pandemic, so is Gerri.

At the heart of Ninth and Brick is curating a space that feels like a community, bringing together Calgary-owned businesses and local artisans in a creative collective to grow and thrive. Her small business supports even smaller businesses by providing them a bricks and mortar sales channel that offers low rent and even lower risk. Especially now in this pandemic environment, Gerri’s business model is a life raft to her community of vendors as many sell their products through local markets, restricted through much of the pandemic.

Gerri modestly credits her close knit community of vendors as the key to surviving the pandemic. “We have a great group of people that helped support me in the store,” Gerri says. “Because we work on a rental system (vendors rent space from Gerri), without their help we wouldn’t be here. Giving them a space to be creative and create as they feel the need to - it helps them to remain here and help support the community we are growing.”

Gerri notes that over the years it has gotten easier to start up a business with The City streamlining processes. While setting up a new business can be intimidating, Gerri says that once she found her perfect location along 9 Avenue, with The City’s assistance and support, it was fairly simple to work through the start up process.

“Business is never easy and you learn the hard way sometimes,” Gerri laughs. “But because we had a business before, we already knew what to expect.  It is definitely easier from the first time we started a business. I prefer to go in person and the people at the walk up counter were so helpful. They told us what we needed and helped us get started. Now you go down on your first day with all the paperwork - much easier than having to go back and forth five times. It is also great that The City has a ton of stuff online.”

Gerri speaks highly of the business-friendly environment The City strives to create. “The business fees and licensing are totally affordable for a city of this size,” she says.

She also notes the success of participating in the Support Local program that The City organized before the pandemic. “We have really built on that. By using the hashtag #SupportLocalYYC - The City really gave us the platform to grow it and direct people to small business specifically.”

As a positive and influential community builder, dedicated to making the world more compassionate and inclusive, Gerri says, “It’s easy to be ‘anti’ and negative but if you want to build a business in Calgary you have to work with The City. Provide feedback – they are willing to listen.”

The #SupportLocalYYC campaign was the most successful social media awareness campaign in The City of Calgary’s history.

Gerri’s also attributes her resilience to growing up as a black woman where negative experiences only served to strengthen her resolve to succeed and become a role model in the business community.

“Now I am in a place where I am comfortable using my platform. It is important to have representation,” Gerri says. “Every week I get somebody messaging me – they are starting a new business. They understand that they can use their platform to be who they are, and they say watching me has helped them. Hearing that feedback is incredible. It took me a long time to get here, but I am glad people are receptive.”

Gerri says she is driven to give back to the community and lift up others in doing so.

“I want to work with likeminded people. Understanding the lessons the last year has shown us - we are all slowing down, we are seeking more time and realizing that people are brands. We need to portray our belief systems and be the community we want to be a part of.”

Support Local YYC

The #SupportLocalYYC campaign which ran from March – December 2020, was the most successful social media awareness campaign in The City of Calgary’s history. The campaign generated over 16.5 million impressions with 115,000 positive reactions from citizens. Calgary was also the top city in Canada for the #SupportLocal hashtag on Twitter in April 2020.

Thank you deeply on behalf of the merchants, businesses and companies and from the Board of Directors of the Chinatown BIA. The typical financial foundation from the previous business year does not exist for many but these gifts will help soften the impacts to be felt this year and create business opportunities that will, hopefully, harvest greater business prosperity.

Grace Su, Chinatown BIA Chair on The City’s 2021 Business Improvement Area tax levy relief.
Ninth and Brick owner Gerri

The Calgary BBZs/BIAs are so very grateful for the innovative work of the COVID Executive Response Group in crafting a program that so elegantly puts money back in the pockets of our small and medium business owners. This is truly an inspiring idea on the part of this group and City Council.

Annie MacInnis, Executive Director Kensington Business Revitalization Zone

Did you know?

The City waived $17.6M in business licence and related fees for new and renewing businesses for a period of two years starting March 2021?

From the very beginning, from our licensing, to our development permits [for a patio], the City has been spectacular with us... we found the City very open for business.  I think taking advantage of the City’s approach would be really smart for any business owners right now. 

Mike Dejong, Owner and Head Brewer, Marda Loop Brewing Co.

Categories: Business, Communities, Inglewood