Calgary businesses adapt amid COVID-19 pandemic

Empty downtown streets in Calgary, Alta., Wednesday, March 18, 2020, amid a worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Several Calgary stores, clinics and service providers are coming up with new ways of doing business during the current COVID-19 pandemic that has seen many others close their doors.

Unleashed is a small pet store in the Mount Royal area that specializes in raw and whole foods for dogs. Owner Mark Bewer said it became clear at the onset of the pandemic that he couldn’t keep his staff or customers safe doing business as usual.

READ MORE: Calgary charity gets thousands of pounds of restaurant food, donations tied to businesses closing amid COVID-19 crisis

“We found ourselves incredibly busy with the panic-buying and the stocking up… sometimes we had 50 — maybe 60 — people in here,” said Bewer, who has been at the same location for the last 15 years. 

“So we just went, ‘No, we can’t have these crowds,’ and that’s when we decided we needed to close the doors to foot traffic.”

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Instead of closing up completely though, Bewer and his small staff of four decided they could still safely sell their product, they just needed to limit their face-to-face interactions with customers.

It was then that they decided to offer curbside pickup.

“Folks have my personal cell number and they text us when they arrive,” said Bewer, explaining that orders are called in ahead of time and then taken directly to customers’ vehicles and placed inside their trunks without any other actual interactions taking place.

Bewer said he’s also expanded his city-wide delivery schedule and will gauge whether or not the $50 spending minimum is required.

“We have some elderly clientele of ours that have a little dog — we’re still going to deliver $20 worth [of dog food],” Bewer said. “That goes without saying I think.”
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Customers, for the most part, have been responding well to the changes as they have in the community of Mahogany.

Veterinarian Dr. Sara Wick says that in addition to increasing an already comprehensive cleaning and sanitizing routine, her clinic isn’t allowing pet owners into her facility.

“We’ve locked the doors,” Wick said, explaining that owners remain in their cars while staff retrieve their pets for the appointment.

Wick said she then connects with the owner via video call while she tends to their animal.

“Our goal is to stay open and stay healthy for everybody,” Wick said.

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