HP stores coping with COVID

Richard Froese

South Peace News

While grocery stores remain busy, many small retailers open in the High Prairie area are committed to serve customers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Glamour and Gear is open during the pandemic as an essential service for one reason.

“I’m lucky I can open because I have firearms and fishing equipment which are listed under essential services,” store owner Tracy Sherkawi says.

“Other businesses are a lot worse off that mine.”

She says 80 per cent of her sales are related to firearms.

As the weather warms up, she expects the sales of items related to fishing and camping to increase.

“I think more people will be outdoors this summer doing recreation like fishing and camping,” Sherkawi says.

She says the effects of the pandemic were not as evitable.

“We were already in a recession when the pandemic hit,” Sherkawi says.

“You’ll see more of a long-term impact than short term.”

H&S Dollar Store is seeing business drop during the pandemic.

“Sales are down a little,” store owner Shaun Poole says.

But some products have become more popular.

“We have been selling a lot of crafts and games,” Poole says.

“People are staying at home and it gives parents and children something to do to pass the time.”

RX Drugs downtown High Prairie has not seen any slowdown in business since the pandemic was announced March 11.

“Business is good,” store manager Joyce Cunningham says.

“We’re maintaining a good level of business as we did before COVID.”

Sanitizers, disinfectants, protective gloves and toilet paper have been in high demand, she says.

Field’s reports business is down.

“It’s slower,” store manager Tracy Paddon says.

She says some employees have decided to leave because they don’t want to catch the virus.

Crafts have become in increased demand as people are urged to stay home during the pandemic.

“We’re selling at lot of crafts to keep kids occupied,” Paddon says.

Bleach and toilet paper are also high on the shopping list although it’s hard to keep shelves stocked filled by the suppliers, she says.

Like most businesses and shoppers, she trusts the restrictions will not last too long.

“We hope this will be over soon,” Paddon says.

Red Apple continues to be busy, store manager Kelsie Turcotte says.

“Our sales our steady,” Turcotte says.

“I find that people come to shop for more items at one time rather than come in more frequently for a few items.”

Besides bleach, toilet paper and cleaners, fun and games are the big items people are buying, she says.

“Toys and colouring books are flying off the shelves because kids are bored at home,” Turcotte says.

Jigsaw puzzles are also high in demand.

“One woman buys up to 10 jigsaw puzzles a week,” Turcotte says.

Electronics and electronic games and movies are also growing more popular, she notes.

Many restaurants appear to be doing good business.

The Boondocks Grill restaurant has picked up business since the pandemic and restrictions started around March 17, owner Ali Mouallem says.

“It’s not as significant a hit as we expected,” Mouallem says.

“Since the 10th of April, we are down in business about 90 percent for the same time last year.”

While the restaurant is closed for dining, customers can order and pick up their food in the drive-thru, phone in and pick up inside, or get meals delivered to their home.

He says a lot of people appreciate a meal from a local restaurant instead of always home-cooked.

Business has come to a grinding halt at Martin Deerline farm equipment dealer in High Prairie.

And COVID-19 is not directly impacting slow business, branch manager Gord Meneice says.

“COVID has not affected business,” Meneice says.

“It’s just the late spring and the uncertainty in the market.”

“Nobody’s spending money if they do have to.”

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