PONTIAC March 25, 2019
Businesses across the Pontiac are struggling to keep pace with the ever changing government mandates to help limit the spread of COVID-19. Many grocery stores and restaurants have been adjusting their hours or increasing takeout and delivery services.
Starting last week, Shawville Valu-mart has implemented a new “seniors hour”, where the store is closed to all but the elderly from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. in order to limit their physical interactions with other people. They have also started closing an hour earlier to give employees time to sanitize the store, and have opened only every second checkout counter to spread customers out. They have also stopped accepting empty cans or bottles and have limited cash purchases to a single register.
Manager Rick Gutoskie said that they’ve seen an increase in people buying large quantities of items, which has caused some temporary gaps in their supply chains. He said that they are still stocking the shelves but had some difficulty keeping up with the sudden influx in demand for products like canned food, toilet paper and pasta.
““There is no need to bulk-purchase or to panic-buy,” he said “We are not going to run out of groceries.”
““We keep getting replenished, but it keeps going out,” he continued. “The shopping volume has created a backlog problem for us receiving products on time.”
Down the street at the Pontiac Home Bakery, owner Dan Duggan has been doing his best to err on the side of caution. He has limited customers in his store to four and requests that all customers use his hand sanitizer station before touching any product. A plexi-glass shield hangs in front of the counter to protect his employees. Even then, he’s said some people haven’t reacted well to the new precautions.
“I’ve been told to go f- myself, I’ve been told to go to hell,” he said. “People just aren’t getting it, they’re not taking it seriously.”
He said that while he’s seen a decline in commuters and other professionals stopping by in the morning for their coffees or doughnuts, he’s had a huge increase in the demand for bread, partially due to supply chain delays at bigger stores. He’s stocked up on ingredients to make sure he can keep up with demand.
“I jumped the gun last week, and I would normally go through 12 bags of flour a week this time of the year, but I brought in 50 last week, I’ve got another 100 coming in this week,” he said. “ I would go through one bag of sugar, I’ve got 7 bags of sugar now and ten bags coming in next week. I’m doing what I can to ensure there will be bread and buns and everything in this area.”
He said that this is the first time he’s ever done a second run of bread during the week, adding that he’d already panned up another 200 loaves on top of his usual inventory. He said he had started to offer deliveries to people cooped up at home.
“I’ve called some people and said, ‘Find out what the neighbours need, I don’t want you coming out, I will bring you stuff and drop it off so you can stay in the house,’” he said, adding that situation had been difficult to comprehend. “It’s an eyeopener, it’s a whole new world, it’s crazy.”
He said that the biggest motivation for the new policies were to keep his customers and his staff of seven as healthy as possible given the circumstances.
“We’re making sure all our employees and customers are safe,” he said.
With files from Darius Shahheydari.
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