Private shopping during quarantine? Why not, says Winnipeg grocer

Continued coronavirus fears are keeping many Manitobans away from public spaces — even grocery stores.

But while some grocers across the country are offering special expanded hours for seniors and other high-risk customers, one Winnipeg business owner is considering taking it even further.

“We’ve actually had some calls asking if we would do private shopping,” said Munther Zeid, owner of Food Fare.

“People want to be able to come in after we close or before we open … they don’t want to worry about anyone else in the store. They want 20 minutes, half an hour to do their shopping, not to worry about who’s in front of them, beside them … behind them.”

Zeid told 680 CJOB he’s entertaining the option and looking at potentially implementing it this week.

While Zeid said he’ll have to work out the logistics with staffing, there’s no reason it couldn’t be done — even if it was just one person who wanted a private shopping experience.

“It’s gonna require the cooperation of our staff and we’ve made some inquiries … as long as they’re paid for that extra half hour — which they will be.

“Does it require a bit of a premium? A little bit but not much… we’re talking a premium of maybe a $25 fee to help cover the extra wages that are incurred,” he said.

“We’re here to serve our community. We’re going to do whatever we can to make it less stressful to everyone. If we can do it, we will.”

Food Fare recently started opening its doors an hour early, exclusively for seniors, and Zeid said that program has been very popular in the short time it’s been active.

“We’re doing that Monday to Friday now for our seniors in the community. We’re on day two of this and today was a very busy morning, so we’re looking at changing our delivery schedule and offering a bit of a better deal for our seniors for delivery.”

Zeid said Food Fare is also looking at offering coffee to the seniors who come in early, to give the shopping more of a community feel.

“Everybody’s afraid of going out, that they might catch this virus, so if we can make it a nice, pleasant time for them, we will.”

The idea of extended shopping for seniors was also floated by major grocery chains Loblaws and Sobeys this week, in light of the pandemic.

“We are prepared for this, and to support those most in need, we are opening some of our stores early with dedicated hours for seniors and people living with disabilities to come before the crowds,” executive chairman of Loblaw Companies Limited Galen Weston said in a letter to PC Optimum members on Wednesday.

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