Country Grocer is stepping up its efforts to ensure shoppers have a safe space to shop amid the COVID-19 outbreak. (Warren Goulding/Gazette)

Country Grocer rolling with the punches amid COVID-19 pandemic

Daily adjustments keep store stocked up, clean and open

Seniors and the immunocompromised have been taking advantage of Lake Cowichan Country Grocer’s exclusive 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. shopping slot confirmed store owner Jo-Anne Pimlott, who said the new hours are just one of many adjustments that have been made to how things are run at the community supermarket.

“It seemed to be well used this morning,” she said March 20 — not too well used though, as there was plenty of room for social distancing — something shoppers are getting used to. They’re working on it.

“For the most part people are good. People are understanding. It’s a matter of teaching about social distancing and about sanitization,” Pimlott said.

To that end the store has hired and may continue to hire staffers for the sole purpose of cleaning.

“We’ve hired three people, in addition to our regular staff whose only job is cleaning. They’re doing whatever they can, no-stop, with a bucket of bleach,” Pimlott said. Employees clean their own work stations in addition.

The owner also said sneeze guards are on the way to protect cashiers at the tills.

Staff hours, particularly those of shelf stockers, are being staggered so they can restock before and after opening hours to avoid feeling crowded and overwhelmed by the rules of social distancing while people shop. By closing an hour early, stockers get a head start on their jobs, too.

“The supply chain is there. They’re getting us lots of stock,” Pimlott reassured, noting their warehouse is in Chemainus which is why they are able to maintain the flow of goods while other stores wait to get their products from farther away.

“We won’t run out of food but we might not have the variety that you want,” she admitted. “We might not have the toilet paper you prefer but we have toilet paper.”

Pimlott said times are different now but they’re keeping up with the daily, sometimes hourly changes via a conference call every day with staff from all seven Country Grocer stores and their head office.

Pimlott said they’re primed to weather the storm.

“As long as people just buy what they need for the week and also don’t keep coming in every day we’ll be OK,” she said.


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