Small town grocery store responds to crisis, boosts community safety

90776049_1142480586095068_6786054873210159104_nPlexiglass barriers, delivery service and calm staff all in place to quell panic and keep community fed

Sayers Foods, in Apsley Ontario, has always been good at change but the past weeks have called for additional resilience.

The family owned and operated grocery store has been feeding the North Kawartha community for three generations and from managing a cottage weekend summer slam to stretching revenues through the quiet winter months, the family have always persevered

Now, with the stress of a global pandemic, the Sayers family is being challenged to use common sense and responsive measures to feed the community, while also trying to keep their employees safe.

Jeff Sayers is one of the independent grocery store partners and he notes there is strength in being small and independent.

“We can make the decisions we need in the moment,” he explained, by phone, from the store on Monday morning. “We’re not looking for a directive from head office; we’re using common sense.”

Some of the responsive measures rolled-out include a plexiglass barrier at one of their check-out lanes, taped distance marks on the floor and Sayers also launched a delivery service last week after it became clear that people were stopping in for groceries before starting mandatory quarantines.

90387697_1140048993004894_5523729848515690496_o“There was a huge cost to not doing anything, so we started with shop orders and home delivery,” Sayers explains. “We want to be proactive more than reactionary.”

The Sayers family is managing rushes to the store with calm and supportive messaging on social media and basic printed signs on the doors make their expectation clear – if you have any symptoms of anything or if you have traveled, you should not be entering the grocery store.

The store will load your car, they’re ready to take online payments and they have a mobile POS that can be used for delivery orders. All the added measures are intended to keep staff safe and the store open so that the community can be fed.

Sayers says the staff are doing really well, modelling the behaviour that everyone needs to see right now from folks on the front lines. The team is staying calm, staying safe and remaining positive through all the changes to how the business operates. If there are problems, the store can make immediate changes – like when limits were placed on some high demand items like toilet paper and cleaning products.

“Everyone is being watchful,” Sayers notes. “We will do our best to quell the panic.”

It’s a scary time and no one knows what the future holds but for now the family is taking the crisis in stride and looking forward to helping their community survive.

With thanks to Jeff Sayers for making time to tell his story during these crazy times.