Grocery store staff work all day to provide their community with a necessary and essential service. This is especially true during a pandemic. Sylvan Lake has three grocery stores bringing in produce, meat, dairy and some fun treats everyday to feed the community. The staff at these stores are in contact with hundreds of people in the day, but Tatyanna Stoesz, a cashier at Sobeys, says she hasn’t been afraid for her health during the current COVID-19 pandemic. “I think the staff [at Sobeys] is doing everything they can to keep us safe and to keep the customers safe,” Stoesz said in a phone interview. “Personally I feel quite safe.” Procedures are in place to keep the staff, and customers, safe and healthy while in the store.
Plexiglass screens have been put in place between cashiers and customers as well as wood panels to protect cashiers from the back. In addition to this, three hand washing stations are set up around the store as well as Lysol wipes which are used on surfaces after each customer. “I think we are all still cautious, but we aren’t fearful of our health,” Stoesz said. Many customers shopping at Sobeys say the store is well stocked, clean and the staff is friendly. Liz Lewis said on Facebook that she was easily able to purchase all the items from her list in as little as 25 minutes. “I am sure you were swamped [sic] but it sure didn’t look like it as you replenished the shelves so quickly,” Lewis wrote.
The staff at Sobeys are also busy with the addition of “golden hour shopping” for seniors and individuals who are immune compromised. Sobeys also added delivery with the help of the Sylvan Lake Fire Department and curbside pick up. Those who have gotten their groceries through curbside pick up also received a gift of flowers, which doesn’t fail to brighten the day of local shoppers. Marnie Lewis Workman said she placed three orders for pickup with Sobeys and was happy with how easy the process was. “My husband pulled up to Sobeys, called them and they brought the groceries out to the car. Easy and safe for those self isolating that I’m trying to keep healthy,” she wrote on Facebook. “Next happy surprise was each had a rose with our order.”
“Overall, the experience has been fairly positive. The customers have, for the most part, been understanding and positive,” Stoesz said. Since COVID-19 protocols have been put in place, Stoesz says she has felt wanted and appreciated in her role, more than ever before. There have been instances where customers have given staff members little gifts including gift cards or flowers. “I had one customer go through the checkout with flower and then gave those flowers to me telling me ‘thank you for your work.’”
Before the pandemic she said it was rare for a customer to thank her for the work, but it means a lot when someone does recognize the work grocery and retail staff put in. “Everyone has to go to a grocery store or a retail store at some point in their life… I really appreciate it when the customers are happy and positive and understanding during this time.”