Shopping could be better termed buying as stores keep customers to a minimum in numbers, in time spent within the stores and moving in a one-way flow. It’s all to comply with rules preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus.
In Virden, customers are greeted at the co-op grocery store with signage limiting one shopper per household. Stores throughout Virden, Hamiota and Brandon have gaps on their shelves. Toilet paper still seems to be a hoarded commodity and there's signs on shelves in Valleyview Co-op food store limiting customer purchases on certain items.
In Brandon, the buying ordeal begins with a wait (15 or 20 minutes in some cases) on cement. On Saturday, April 11, people lined-up in a bitter April wind outside every large store that was allowed to be open. That discomfort alone separated the shoppers from the buyers.
There’s no fun, no frills in a visit to a grocery, hardware, or drugstore now. Get the necessary item(s) and leave so the next person can also get their necessities.
Traditionally, stores have been set up to encourage impulse buying. In today’s COVID climate, there’s little time or opportunity for that. In fact, a Brandon pet store had a two-customer limit. Customers were just glad it was open. The aisles were taped off and staff took your order and brought it to the counter for payment.
The closer to home you shop, the easier you may find it.
In Virden's Super Thrifty pharmacy, regular hours continue and with a low volume of shoppers on Monday, April 13. There has been no need to limit customers entering the store, staff report.
However, curb-side and home delivery service is available from both drug stores in Virden.
Virden Drugs IDA Pharmacy owner Jim Whyte said shoppers are encouraged to pre-order. “We take orders via Facebook, phone call, text, we're delivering free of charge... we do curb-side pick-up."
He said business was brisk after the COVID-19 pandemic was announced, but Monday was starting slow.
In both pharmacies, hand sanitization and a spacing pattern laid out on the floor help customers stay safe.
However, Whyte says there’s still no hand sanitizer available for customers; or Lysol disinfectant wipes (hard surface disinfectant).
A concern, protective N-95 masks are unavailable. Whyte says there’s no personal protective equipment for staff at the drugstore.
“Hopefully they'll get this solved before it becomes a necessity for us,” he said. “I'm sure the government will look after it at some point.”
In Brandon’s Corral Centre, the hardware store has a special parking spot for customers who order / pay online for pick-up in person. You are notified by email when your order is ready and staff bring it to your car.
Cleaning skills are now in demand. In one large store we saw entrance-way walls being washed down throughout the day. Some stores have reduced hours to allow for the extra sanitation measures.