Bray’s Independent Grocer opens weekly (except for Sundays) at 8 am, but now the store’s first hour of operation will be just for seniors or for those who need assistance, to give them the opportunity to shop before the general public.
The move is an effort to protect the most vulnerable during the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Just to provide somewhat safer or less busier time for them to get through the store,” said co-owner Bill Bray.
Mr Bray said it was a corporate decision to designate that first hour for seniors to shop.
“Just to give some folks with mobility issues the opportunity to get out before any crowds hit,” he explained.
Last Wednesday, on March 18, was the first time the Alberton store enacted the change and Mr Bray said quite a few people took advantage of the hour.
“We’re usually very slow first thing in the morning, but there has been at least 10 to 15 people in so far,” he said.
He said about 95 per cent of those individuals who came into the grocery store were older.
Mr Bray said the store has been busy in the recent weeks since panic over the COVID-19 outbreak began in Canada.
To help combat the spread of the virus, the store, on their own, has also set up a hand sanitizer station at the front entrance. The store is encouraging customers to sanitize their hands when they come into the store and when they leave, along with their carts.
Mr Bray said the store cleans the carts and the building on a regularly basis throughout the day before COVID-19 worries began, but has also implemented extra cleaning since the outbreak.
“We wipe down all the lines, all the phones, every door handle a minimum of three times a day,” said Mr Bray.
Mr Bray said the store is working through any supply issues they are facing as a result of COVID-19.
And his staff are staying positive. Management are providing front end staff with disposable gloves, implementing the extra sanitization, asking customers to bag their own groceries and creating ‘social distancing’ markers on the floor at the cash registers.
“They are seeing that we are doing the best we can to keep them safe,” said Mr Bray.
Bray’s Independent Grocer is making changes to their operation hours too, closing an hour earlier at 8 pm, to make sure shelves are well stocked and sanitized and to give employees a well-deserved break.
Other grocery stores in the area are following suit by offering seniors or those who need assistance a specific time to shop.
Foodland Bloomfield is offering a ‘Seniors Shopping Hour’ between 7 am to 8 am. The store has adjusted their operating hours too, open from 7 am to 8 pm Monday to Saturday and 11 am to 5 pm on Sunday. The O’Leary Farmers Co-op is offering a time for seniors to shop from 8 am to 9 am beginning on March 23.