'Pandemonium' stuns grocer
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 07/05/2020 (1118 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
It’s 8 p.m. on the nose as the last few stragglers pay for their groceries and trickle out of the Lilac Street Food Fare at closing time.
The small store is quiet now, shelves ravaged from another busy day, but there are still a few packages of toilet paper and Lysol wipes and three small bags of all-purpose flour in stock — a veritable holy trinity of most-wanted items during this pandemic.
Husni Zeid, owner of this location — one of the five Food Fares owned and operated by the Zeid family in Winnipeg — has been in the grocery business his entire life and has never encountered anything quite like the “pandemonium” that occurred when COVID-19 came to town.
“We’ve never seen numbers like this, we’ve never seen products flying off the shelves like this, we’ve never seen empty shelves like this, ever,” he says.
“We always usually have a full store, and now when we order, it’s like ‘Whatever you can send, send it, we’ll take it.’ Even if it’s 10 cases, we’ll take it, it’s going to move, we know people want it, we’re just trying to keep the stock coming in.”
“We’ve never seen numbers like this, we’ve never seen products flying off the shelves like this, we’ve never seen empty shelves like this, ever.”
Food Fare has always offered delivery service, but over the last two months the number of orders has skyrocketed.
On a typical delivery day pre-COVID-19, the Lilac Street location would send out 15 to 20 orders. Now, they have to cap it at 60. Before setting the cap, they did 120 deliveries in one day.
To accommodate for the influx of work (and for staff who want to self-isolate at home), Zeid has brought in some additional employees and says some members of the community have also volunteered to stock shelves or help with deliveries just to get out of the house and lend a hand to a business that has been part of the neighbourhood for 45 years.
While Zeid says he isn’t personally worried about catching the virus, he has seen some customers on edge while shopping, getting upset when they can’t find specific items that are out of stock or because of the close confines of the small store.
“We’ve had a lot of frustration; a lot of customers who are frustrated and upset. But a lot of people have been patient as well, and understanding,” he says.
“It’s been quite crazy to try and adapt to all the changes and accommodate.”
— Erin Lebar