From books to beer, COVID-19 sparks delivery boom in Alberta

Click to play video: 'COVID-19 self-isolations leading to increased demand for deliveries' COVID-19 self-isolations leading to increased demand for deliveries
WATCH ABOVE: The COVID-19 pandemic continues to drastically change Albertans’ everyday lives. For many, that means staying indoors. As Blake Lough reports, that means demand for delivery services is on the rise. – Mar 20, 2020

With more and more people confined to their homes due to the spread of COVID-19, businesses across Alberta have adapted to fill a growing demand: everywhere from bookstores to breweries are now delivering.

For some of those businesses, like Edmonton’s Sea Change Brewing Co., the change in direction happened out of necessity and almost instantaneously.

READ MORE: Coronavirus is hurting small businesses. Here’s how to help

“We basically became a drop shipping company in about an hour,” co-owner Jay Sparrow said on Friday.

Due to the public health emergency declared by Premier Jason Kenney this week, Sea Change had to close its two taprooms and laid off about 30 of its 40 staff.

READ MORE: Alberta has 195 COVID-19 cases; some child care centres to reopen for essential service workers

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Sparrow and the Sea Change team decided to try delivering their product instead.

“We released a video to our social media [Thursday] morning expecting to get maybe 20 or 30 deliveries over the course of the whole day. I think we had about 250 in the first 30 minutes,” Sparrow said.

“We basically sold out of two of our core brands in the first 24 hours. And we’re likely to be sold out of all of our beer, which was supposed to last us for two weeks, in the next 24 hours.”

Sparrow said they’d likely run out of stock by Saturday and will need to take time to brew more product before resuming deliveries.

Sea Change isn’t alone in seeing heightened demand for delivery service.

Known across the country for their recognizable uniforms, Men in Kilts cleaning service decided to change its direction and focus on providing a delivery service for self-isolating people during the pandemic.

READ MORE: Calgary businesses adapt amid COVID-19 pandemic

Calgary-Edmonton president Spencer Wik said people can send them a grocery list over email and confirm payment options — either e-transfer or cash.

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Crew members then head to the grocery store, buy the needed items and drop the groceries off on the front step at a designated time.

“When [COVID-19] hit, we’re obviously not doing a lot of interior window cleaning right now, so we figured we’d take our energy and our guys and put them in trucks and see how we can help,” Wik said. “We’re not going to shut our business down, we don’t want to lay off any employees. So how do we stay busy? What can we do? How do we help out?

READ MORE: Want groceries delivered? Options across Canada during the coronavirus outbreak

Even bookstores are even offering delivery services.

Matthew Stepanic is the co-owner of Glass Bookshop in Edmonton. Along with his dog, he is driving across the city making drop-offs.

“We basically moved the bookshop entirely online. People can pick out the books they want to read and we deliver it, free of charge,” Stepanic said.

“We’re really working to find out how we can serve the needs of the community and still get them all the books they need and want to read while they’re stuck inside.”

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READ MORE: Alberta pharmacists see high demand, but no shortage of prescriptions amid coronavirus concerns

More important than books and beer are prescription medications, which can also be delivered straight to your door from most major pharmacies.

Flash Express worker Sovran Muhajhiri has noticed a significant increase in the amount of prescription drugs he delivers to doorsteps.

“These days, with this virus, every day I can see it’s busy and busy, more and more,” he said.

Keep an eye out for scammers

With so many businesses and community organizations now offering delivery services to help those self-isolating at home, the Better Business Bureau is offering a warning.

Communications specialist Shawna-Kay Thomas cautions that scammers will always try to take advantage of the vulnerable, especially when money is involved.

“We are concerned that there may be people out there who are trying to take advantage of this situation,” Thomas said.

“They may come, knock on your door and say that they are volunteers, but they’re really unscrupulous people who will not take your money back and you will not get groceries.”

Thomas says if you are self-isolating and in need of groceries, look to reputable businesses or a local community association first.

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Many community associations are now linking Good Samaritans with neighbours in need to provide volunteer deliveries.

“Once you go through your community associations, family [and] neighbours first – and then those well-known organizations in our community that are used to doing this kind of work, then you’re less likely to be scammed,” Thomas said.

If for some reason those options are not available, Thomas says there’s still other ways to protect yourself.

“If someone pops up at your door and you’re in dire need of help at the moment, make sure you get some kind of identity for the person,” she said.

“You want to copy their driver’s licence, take their name down, their number down from their driver’s licence, just so if something should go wrong, you can file a report to the police and they can be found.”

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