Essential Services Running at Full Speed in Northern Bruce

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Local Businesses Adapt with Changing Business Models. L-R: Wendy and Don Cameron of Peninsula Out-of-Doors have five greenhouses full of bedding plants, hanging baskets and commercial displays. They have no idea what their business model will be for the upcoming season. Their commercial customers may not need the usual displays. As an agricultural business, they are deemed essential and are allowed to remain open, but they have opted for staff and customer safety and are not allowing customers into the store or greenhouses. They hope their customers will adjust to a Tim-Hortons-style drive through operation. The Bruce Peninsula Press predicts that demand for plants, seeds, soil and fertilizer will be at an all-time high with everybody in long-term quarantine. The Camerons definitely hope we’re right.
By John Francis

Essential services are still running at full speed in Northern Bruce Peninsula.

Peninsula Pharmacy in Lion’s Head has never seen this volume of prescriptions. They are seeing an influx of people who don’t always get their scrips filled in Lion’s Head — snowbirds, cottagers, people who work off the peninsula. This, coupled with the limitation to 30 days of medication, has made for a dramatic increase in workload.

Pharmacist Robin McGuire says that the store’s staff “have been amazing, filling much more than the normal amount of prescriptions.” She expects a further increase in coming weeks.

The pharmacy is open 9-6, Monday to Friday; closed on Saturday. McGuire is very concerned about her staff — “Assume COVID 19 is here and act accordingly,” she says. “The best thing you can do is stay home.” (Peninsula Parcel will deliver any prepaid order anywhere on the peninsula.)

The pharmacy’s preferred modus operandi is to hand parcels and prescriptions out the front door — to the customer or to Peninsula Parcel — or to send them by courier for pickup at Tobermory Clinic. 

McGuire actively discourages people from coming into the store. “Please don’t risk exposing my staff and my community.”

Crystal Brown hands prescriptions out the front door as Peninsula Pharmacy
tries to minimize the number of shoppers in the store.

Hellyers Foodland in Lion’s Head has made a number of adjustments to its business model. They have limited the number of customers in the store at any time to 25 and only one shopper per household.. There are arrows and markings on the floor to help enforce physical distancing.

Staff have noticed a lot of unfamiliar faces in the store — many of them are peninsula residents who normally shop elsewhere. “We’re hoping they’ll stay with us after this is over,” comments Kara Hellyer.

The shortages seem to be easing. “We’ve had toilet paper on the shelves three days in a row,” says Kyle Hellyer. Quantities are limited on some items on some days, depending on supply. The demand is greatest for toilet paper, hand sanitizer, Lysol, Lysol wipes and baker’s yeast. There are a lot of people baking their own bread.

It’s seniors only in the store every morning from 8 to 9.

But if you’re a fan of physical distancing, the best way to shop is to phone (or email) your order in and then pick it up from the trailer at the back of the store. Staff do your shopping for you then put the order in the trailer and walk away. Call 519-793-3415 to set it up. Email address is [email protected]

Kara and Kyle Hellyer at the pickup trailer behind Hellyers Foodland in Lion’s Head.
The best way to shop for those who want to preserve physical distancing.

Peacocks in Tobermory has a slightly different system, but the resulting service is very similar.

Peacocks is trying to keep in-store shopping to a minimum. “It’s not that we’re trying to discourage business,” says owner Rick Peacock, “we’re thinking of staff (and customer) safety by trying to minimize contact and prevent exposure of staff.” He pauses for a moment, then continues, sounding slightly exasperated on a busy Saturday afternoon: “It’s not a family outing, one person per family, come in, get what you want and go.” He — and his staff — would prefer people to email or phone their order in. Staff will do your shopping for you. When you come to pick it up, phone from your parking space and staff will bring it to the (front) parking area in a cart. Same day service for all orders placed before 9:00 AM.

Peacocks also offers delivery. Customers in town are served Tuesday and Friday. Mondays are for Warner Bay and Cape Hurd. Wednesdays are Grant Watson Drive, Hay Bay and Dunks Bay. Thursdays are Cameron Lake, Dorcas Bay and Johnson’s Harbour.

Peacocks has also noticed a lot of new faces. They would be delighted to continue to see them after the pandemic ends.

Peacocks prefer emailed orders: [email protected] although the phone (519-596-2380) also works.