Melfort grocery stores adapt to pandemic

MELFORT — Melfort’s two grocery stores are adapting to the pandemic.

 

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Prairie North Co-op

As of March 26, Terry Tremblay, Prairie North Co-op’s general manager said that as an essential service, they’re attempting to keep all Prairie North Co-op locations open.

Currently, grocery deliveries are preferred to in-person shopping

“We have two vans, full-time, delivering groceries, so we’re doing well over 100 deliveries a day – and we’re encouraging that,” Tremblay said.

“We have six people, all they’re doing is picking orders and delivering orders in Melfort.”

To place a delivery, a customer can call the Melfort food store at 306-752-9381.

There was formerly a $5 delivery fee that has since been waived due to the pandemic.

Deliveries can be paid for by giving debit card information over the phone, or by a mobile debit machine at the house. An e-transfer system is currently being implemented. Cheques will be accepted, and cash will be accepted as a last resort.

Customers can pre-pay to cover multiple grocery deliveries rather than each time. This is something that wasn’t implemented within the previous delivery service.

“If we can help keep 200 customers a day out of our store, it helps with the social distancing, right? That’s 20 less customers an hour.”

Aisles in several sites, including the Melfort food store, have been marked as “one way shopping,” this means the customer will only be able to travel that one direction on the aisle in order to maintain social distance.

“The Melfort food store is our biggest challenge, since it’s our highest traffic site, and it’s the most key. People are so committed to keeping it open because if the food store starts closing you create another set of challenges for the community.”

The Melfort food store has an hour dedicated to shoppers who are elderly or immunocompromised, which takes place from 8 to 9 a.m.

A “shift premium” pay raise was given to all staff of the food stores for working during the pandemic.

“We are bringing people from our gas stations and other locations to work in our food stores to help keep up,” Tremblay said.

At the checkout, markers have been placed to instruct the shopper of where to stand for appropriate social distance.

Plexiglass till guards are being installed at all food stores in order to protect customers and cashiers from the virus.

Tremblay said their sanitizing has “really ramped up.”

“We’re sanitizing all of our shopping carts as they come in, we’re [using] real strict cleaning schedules, long checklists throughout the store and certain areas are cleaned every 15 minutes, every 30 minutes and every hour.”

One family member is encouraged to do the shopping per household, as only a limited number of people can enter the store at one time.

 

Your Independent Grocer

A full-time professional cleaning team has been hired to clean the surfaces in the store.

The team’s leader has been certified by the World Health Organization to clean specifically for COVID-19.

“They’re going around disinfecting all the work surfaces and down the aisles and such like that,” said Wendy Gagnon, Your Independent Grocer’s store manager.

One family member is encouraged to do the shopping per household, as only a limited number of people can enter the store at one time.

As of March 26, grocery deliveries have not been set up.

Shipments are being delivered six days a week to the store location, one day more than before the pandemic.

At the checkout, markers have been placed to instruct the shopper of where to stand for appropriate social distance.

Plexiglass till guards have been installed.

Debit cards are the recommended payment option, but they will still take cash if necessary.

The store has increased the amount a customer can pay using tap on their debit machines. Previously, it stopped at $100, requiring the customer to put in their chip and insert their pin. This has been increased to $250. The customer may still need to contact their bank, if they have the amount they can spend in one time set below that.

Customers are asked to avoid bringing their own reusable bags. The groceries will be packed in plastic bags, with the five cent fee waived.

“If they do bring in their own shopping bags, we do not pack them. The customer has to pack their own groceries.”

Your Independent Grocer has an hour dedicated to shoppers who are elderly or immunocompromised, which takes place from 7 to 8 a.m. The store hours have been changed to close at 8 p.m.

A guard is stationed at the front door to count the number of people entering, to ensure the number doesn’t break current provincial guidelines.

“We’re just taking all the precautions we possibly can. Shopping carts are outside as well, and we removed the baskets because the handles were fabric,” Gagnon said.

“The customer grabs the cart from outside and then we have wipes up at the front for them to sanitize down the handle.”

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