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Virus brings massive changes to the shopping experience

Stores across region have adjusted their operations due to COVID-19.
2020-03-25 ap
Pet Valu features this sign near its cash register where employees will help customers get what they're looking for. Andrew Philips/MidlandToday

While many stores across the area have shut their doors during the current COVID-19 pandemic, those still open have dramatically altered the ways they do business.

Midland’s Pet-Valu location is a perfect example of this new reality in an age of uncertainty.

The store, which prior to coronavirus invading the country operated a dog-washing station and allowed shoppers to walk the aisles to check out a wide variety of pet foods, products and treats, now feels a little bit like an old-time grocery counter where customers place their orders and employees select items that in days gone by would have been found on high shelves behind the counter.

“We don’t allow browsing right now,” said store manager Shawna Jupp, who noted a great deal of effort is also put into making sure all surfaces are properly sanitized.

“We’re your personal shoppers. We have one person running to get things and one person taking orders.”

The store has also installed sets of pink bunny feet out front to help customers maintain proper social distancing while waiting. And when they’re at the front of the bunny feet (i.e. line), a sign tells them to wait there to be served by a store clerk.

“The sign’s a little more visible than a piece of tape,” Jupp said, adding customers seem fine with the change of pace.

“We’ll say, ‘you can come in now and buy your stuff. What can we get for you?’”

And while some product examples can now be found near the store’s front entrance, Jupp said if somebody’s looking for something specific like a six-foot leash, the clerk will show a few examples at different price points to help them better decide.

They’re also now offering backdoor delivery where a customer can call in an order, pay over the phone and have it delivered to the trunk of their car behind the store.

And similar to some grocery chains, Staples now offers contactless curbside pickup at its Midland location. Using the service, customers can order online and pick up for free at the store without leaving their car.

Just down the road at Canadian Tire, signs encourage customers upon entering to use one of the three hand-washing stations. There are also signs throughout the store reminding customers to stay six feet apart along with red tape on the floor indicating proper spacing while waiting in the purchase queue.

And similar to Canadian Tire, carts are also being regularly wiped down at stores like Food Basics where an employee is now stationed near the entrance to remind customers to ensure they properly sanitize their hands.

Andrew Philips

About the Author: Andrew Philips

Community Editor Andrew Philips is a multiple award-winning journalist whose writing has appeared in some of the country’s most respected news outlets. Originally from Midland, Philips returned to the area from Québec City a decade ago
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