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Thornbury Foodland looks to the community for backup amid COVID-19 shopping craze

Thornbury’s sole grocery store has been feeling the heat of panic shopping in recent days.

“This has been crazy. Like nothing I have ever seen in 50 years,” says Brian Leduc, owner of Foodland in Thornbury. “We are a busy store to begin with but this has been astronomical.”

Leduc says the store has seen a drastic increase in shoppers, as well as shoppers purchasing large quantities.

“People get caught up in the panic and think that we are not going to get anymore shipments for some reason. I think that is what the fear is, but we are still getting shipments everyday,” he says.

While Foodland is receiving their regular deliveries, Leduc says because of the increase in shopping across the county, some of the store’s recent shipments have not been full loads.

“The other day our fill rate was about 36 per cent and it is usually around 90. But, by the weekend we should be getting back to full loads again. There are so many stores all selling the same products and they all draw from the same suppliers,” Leduc explains. “It is just taking the system a while to catch up because we were so wiped out.”

Foodland has had to establish restrictions on certain in-demand items, and has been watching for people making repeat trips for the same items.

Leduc says, Thornbury residents should know the store is doing everything possible to ensure stock stays on the shelves.

“Believe me, I am on the phone most of the day trying to find extra products and trying to get direct deliveries from paper companies,” Leduc says. “Our business has tripled and every time a truck comes in, we need to get those contents on the floor immediately. It is all hands on deck.”

Foodland has also seen a drastic increase in requests for delivery. Something that has led to a call to the community for volunteer delivery drivers.

“We usually do between 10 and 13 deliveries on Tuesdays and Fridays. Yesterday we did 20 and we have already had at least 30 calls today. We are looking at an increase to about 80 deliveries a week,” Leduc says. “We can only handle so many in a day with the staff that I have on hand.”

Inundated with in-store shoppers and delivery requests, Leduc is looking to the public for volunteers to help with food deliveries and sanitizing carts.

“The guy that does the deliveries for us also works in our produce department, so we need him in there as well,” he says. “The Rotary Club is generously donating their time to help us with deliveries right now, however, we are estimating more requests in the coming weeks as snowbirds return to the area and will have to self isolate.”

Leduc says he is not charging a delivery fee, and doesn’t plan on it. He also reassures customers that there will be no inflated prices for in-demand items in his store.

“We sell everything at regular prices. I don’t believe in that. Even if I had the opportunity, I wouldn’t take it. Especially being the only store in town,” he says.

For those who may be interested in volunteering to deliver food, Leduc says Foodland is processing payment over the phone and the deliveries are left on the doorstep to ensure there is no person-to-person interaction.

“We are taking every precaution to keep our staff and the public safe,” he adds. “We are doing everything that we can do and we are being updated daily from our head office.”

Leduc says that the community outreach has been great and he has compiled a list of volunteers but could still use a few more.

“The outreach has been great. We have even had people coming in and thanking us for being open and providing them with what we can,” he says. “And my staff have been unbelievable. They are here every day dealing with all of these crowds. It makes me extremely proud to be doing what I do. We are looking after our community as much as we can.”

Anyone interested in volunteering to assist the Thornbury Foodland in delivering food or sanitizing carts is asked to call 519-599-3000.

Leduc also reminds residents to stay out of the store if they are not feeling well or to consider making a delivery order instead.

“Everyone needs to think about what will happen if it spreads and the store staff start to get infected. Sooner or later we would be forced to close our doors and we are the only store in town,” he says. “And relax. The border is still open to trade. We are getting deliveries, we just need time to catch up.”

Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,

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