Glebe merchants adapt

Joe Mamma Cycles, an essential service, is continuing to provide bike tuneups, repair and purchases, by appointment and curbside pick-up, always maintaining social distance.  Photo: Liz McKeen

By Trevor Greenway

When Katherine Slack was told her stationery supply boutique had to shut its doors due to COVID-19, she had no idea whether or not her business could survive.

But like any entrepreneur, the owner of The Papery went into problem-solving mode and began to search for novel ways to continue to serve her customers while still doing her part to curb the spread of the virus.

With e-commerce orders beginning to flow in, she also started accepting emails and phone calls from customers looking for birthday cards, craft supplies and the newest big seller, puzzles.

“I have been getting my customers involved in the ordering process, so it’s been really fun,” laughed Slack, adding that some customers have sent her shopping lists that she puts together for curbside pickup. “Sometimes, I am in the store and somebody knocks on the window and points and says, ‘Can I buy that?’”

For these shoppers, Slack has initiated a “tapless card protocol” where customers leave their credit card on a tray so she can bring it inside to ring in the sale. She’s trying to offer many ways to purchase, especially for those who do not have the ability to shop online. She has even used WhatsApp to give customers a virtual shopping experience.

“Now I’m thinking I can use WhatsApp to shop with customers for birthday cards. Should we go over to the floral ones? Should I take you over to the funny ones?”

You’ll find similar innovations and dedication at neighbourhood grocery stores McKeen Metro Glebe, Loblaws, Il Negozio Nicastro, Whole Foods Market and the Glebe Meat Market. These shops and their workers have become local champions, serving the essential needs of the community during an unprecedented and challenging time. All of them have implemented dedicated hours for the elderly and vulnerable populations.

“Our colleagues are definitely my heroes,” said Loblaws store manager Sophie Lichtenstein. “We continue to be impressed with how well our colleagues are handling this challenging situation and how committed they are to providing this essential service to our community. Our team has become much closer during this time. We’re like a family, and we definitely couldn’t continue to do what we’re doing day in and day out without them.”

The Isabella Street grocery store has set up a simple time-slot tool that allows online shoppers to select their preferred pickup time. They’ve also launched Instacart, an online shopping tool that can have groceries delivered in as little as one hour, though wait times may vary depending on demand.

At McKeen Metro Glebe, they have three trucks dropping off groceries with “no contact delivery.”

Whole Foods also offers door-drop delivery and reserves the first hour of in-store shopping each day for customers over 60. The Glebe Meat Market offers telephone orders with pickup outside the store so customers don’t have to enter.

Creative measures help keep customers safe while allowing our resilient merchants to continue to serve the community and stay in business. A quick surf through our Share Your Love Marketplace at intheglebe.ca shows just how resourceful entrepreneurs can be. From hair salons and clothing stores selling products online to health and wellness companies shifting from in-studio lessons to virtual yoga, dance and fitness classes, merchants are here for you.

Where I Thrive runs weekly live streamed barre and fusion classes to keep clients moving. The footloose crew at Fred Astaire offer dance lessons online.

Local pharmacies have also taken special measures during the outbreak, from free prescription delivery and curbside pickup at Whole Health Pharmacy to online prescription management at Shopper’s Drug Mart.

When it comes to food, many Glebe eateries haven’t turned down the heat – they continue to cook delicious take-out and delivery meals so you can enjoy your favourite dishes at home. More than 30 restaurants are dishing up everything from Italian, Mediterranean and Indian to seafood, Asian-fusion and good old Canadian pub fare.

At Joey Lansdowne, customers can stock up on quality goods, including eggs, butter, proteins and produce, at the new Joey Market. Customers can also purchase full meal kits to easily recreate Joey’s famous gluten-free salmon or delicious chicken parmesan right in their own kitchens.

“It’s every single ingredient that is in that dish portioned out for four people and they can cook it at home with instructions,” says Joey general manager Massimo LaMonaca. “It’s awesome. It’s like going out for dinner but being able to cook it with your significant other. And we make it look easy for them.”

The restaurant has also partnered with Door Dash to ensure that customers get their order delivered within 30 minutes. As a way to give back to the community, Joey offers discounts for all first responders.

“It has helped them get some affordable food and help them out,” says LaMonaca. “Nurses, doctors, police, firefighters. Any first responder.”

While COVID-19 continues to affect our way of life, neighbourhood merchants are doing everything they can to retain some normalcy. Let’s share the love and support them. They need us now more than ever. Visit our Share Your Love Marketplace at intheglebe.ca where you can browse more than 100 merchants selling products, food and gift cards online with takeout and delivery options galore.

This just in: Café Morala is looking to open for takeout Wednesday to Sunday, 9 to 3, with coffee, cookies, empanadas and soup.

Trevor Greenway is communications and membership officer at the Glebe BIA.

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