Staff at Bosley’s pet store in Sooke keep a positive attitude amid all the major changes in service during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo contributed by Ashley Belcher)

Sooke businesses adjust to new reality amid COVID-19 pandemic

Staff at Bosley’s keep a positve attitude, ‘singing and dancing’ in the store

Sooke businesses are adapting to the “new norm” of service during the coronavirus pandemic.

Major changes in service style have been made by every business that’s remained open since the spread of COVID-19 begun.

Lori Rittaler and Lisa Taylor, owners of Riverside Cannabis and the Castle Liquor Store, said their business has been busy since the pandemic began.

In mid March, Rittaler said, people were coming in more frequently and stocking up so they would have to come less often.

Customers are not allowed to enter the cannabis shop or the liquor store, as both have shifted to a pick-up or delivery only. Customers can come and view a menu outside the stores, or shop online, and can choose to either have products delivered to their door, or pick them up.

The stores adjusted hours are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays. The liquor store is open until 9 p.m. on weekends.

“We have been super busy trying to stay ahead of the curve and make sure staff are OK, and everyone is healthy and happy,” said Taylor, noting the liquor store often has a lineup outside.

“We have a big tent set up for people to stand under … nothing is as usual, but we want to make things as ‘shoppable’ as we can.”

ALSO READ: Sooke eateries adapt to new restrictions

Ashley Belcher, owner of Bosley’s Pet Store in Sooke, said in the first few weeks of the outbreak, the rapid adjustments were difficult, but staff has “done an unbelievable job adapting and taking on every change.”

Only two people at a time are allowed in the store, which has acrylic glass around the tills, tape dividers on the floor, and the debit machine and counter are sanitized after every customer visit.

Staff members also have the option to wear gloves and masks on shift.

“I am grateful for the attitudes of our staff. As a team and as a family, we have been staying very positive,” Belcher said. “Even through all the big changes, there has been a lot of singing and dancing in the store.”

The store hours were adjusted to 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Bosley’s is also doing deliveries from East Sooke to Port Renfrew. The delivery service will continue after the pandemic ends.

“The positive thing to come from this is that we are seeing a lot of people who may be would usually shop at Costco, start coming to us,” Belcher said. “It’s nice for residents to come in and meet our family, support local, and have that community engagement. We are really sticking together and working through it.”

ALSO READ: Sooke woman, 93, sews aprons for grocery store workers

Nel Burger, owner of Sooke Fax and Copy Centre, a long time business owner has never experienced something like this.

Burger is thankful it’s tax season – most of her business now is for bookkeeping and income taxes services

Procedures have changed greatly around the copy centre, as only one customer is allowed in the office at a time, and clients filing their taxes are expected to just drop off their paperwork.

Burger’s continuously sanitizing the office, put up a sneeze shield, and has reduced office hours from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Two employees were laid off.

“I don’t think we are feeling the full effect at this time because of the tax season, but the copy centre is seeing a considerable impact,” said Burger, noting many events are cancelled, so people aren’t copying nearly as much.

“I do worry about when this is going to end, and how many businesses will not be able to reopen after this is finished.”

Sooke Fax and Copy Centre has a website highlighting its services, and can do customized orders of office supplies for people. To view the services offered, please go online to www.sookecopycentre.com.

“We are very grateful for our clients for continued support, and people have been thankful we are still open and able to do business,” Burger said.

“This whole thing can really get to you mentally after a while. And maybe you need to have a little pity party, or shed a tear or two – but we have to pick ourselves up, and we have to keep going.”

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