Several companies in Vernon are changing the way they do business to continue servicing the community amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Wet Spot Grooming and Pet Centre on 27th Street has limited its employees. Now, only three people are staffing the shop and they all live under the same roof, owner Cam Albert said.
“On top of that, we’re not allowing people to mingle in the store,” she said. “We’re staggering calls to ensure people aren’t lining up to prevent extra people from gathering in the store.”
Customer’s leashes and other pet-related hardware is not to be left at the store either to prevent any potential exposure to possible germs.
Albert said extensive cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch areas, including doors, debit machines, door knobs and railings, is ongoing to curb the spread of bacteria.
“I’ve never experienced anything like this,” Albert said. “I don’t think people are as scared of the coronavirus. I think people aren’t so scared of a virus apocalypse, they’re more worried they won’t be able to get anything if there is a possible shut down.”
Meanwhile, Little Plum, a locally-owned children’s consignment clothing store is allowing its customers to shop via text message, phone or even video conference, it said in a Facebook post.
Payments are accepted by cash, pay by tap or e-transfer and pickups or even deliveries can be scheduled.
“We really look forward to being able to offer the community for as long as we’re able to while at the same time staying safe and responsible,” shop owner Linda McGrew said in a Facebook video.
She noted staff is taking extra precautions to sanitize after each customer.
Other local businesses, such as the popular sandwich shop, the Fig, has been supporting the community by delivering soup, salad and cooks for healthcare workers, Melissa Wilkinson said on social media on March 18.
The Downtown Vernon Association said taking steps to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus is top priority. This will ensure the community remains healthy. But, it’s important to keep the local economy healthy as well.
“We encourage you to remember the many small businesses downtown and continue supporting them, even if you cannot visit them physically,” the DVA said in a statement.
“It has been difficult for many businesses as they have been required to cut capacity or close entirely by this crisis and many small, independent businesses are doing their best to adapt and respond quickly.”
The DVA and the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce suggest buying gift certificates, inquire about delivery options and shop online, if that’s an option.
The DVA also recommends making purchases normally made later in the year now to help support the local businesses feeling the squeeze of COVID-19.
“Our health, as a community, depends on working together and our local, small businesses are the best in responding with care to individual needs with the unique perspective of being local,” the DVA said.
Vernon isn’t alone. These effects are being felt by businesses across the province.
The BC Chamber of Commerce and its 120-member chamber network released a survey March 18 which painted a “dire picture” of the effects the virus is having on businesses.
Of nearly 8,000 businesses surveyed, 90 per cent of respondents said they are feeling the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“If you do have the opportunity to get outside in the coming weeks, we invite you to come downtown,” the DVA said. “Enjoy a stroll in the fresh air, take in the murals, notice the heritage architecture and make note of those businesses you want to return downtown to support when the time is right.”