How this New Liskeard establishment shifted its business to curbside

As the provincial government moves ahead with the plan to restart the economy, one owner of a northeastern Ontario business says shifting to curbside has kept her business up and running.

Starting Monday, retail stores with a street entrance in Ontario can start offering curbside pickup and delivery. 

The owner of a business in New Liskeard knows how to do that all too well. Since the pandemic started, The Pantry Bulk Foods Store and the Market Eatery have gone curbside.

Penny Durant owns and operates the business. She says because she sells food, she could have stayed open to physical customers this entire time. However, she says she decided to stick with curbside pickup with her children in mind.

“Their safety was my primary focus the whole time,” she said.

Shifting to curbside took some work but Durant says one thing that was beneficial is that one entire wall of her store is glass.

“We were able to move our fridges right up to the front window,” she said.

“We put our restaurant menu in the front window. And we’ve got a listing of all our bulk products taped to the front window. It’s kind of an extreme version of window shopping,” she said.

‘Circle of safety’

Durant says she still interacts regularly with her customers, although it has changed.

“I yell a lot through the glass,” she said. “People have been phoning in orders. They’ve been messaging us orders on social media. We’ve been taking emails for orders.”

Outside her store, she has drawn her “circle of safety” on the sidewalk with chalk. Customers are free to chat with her if they’re outside that line.

For payment, she says customers can use tap technology through the glass.

Overall, Durant says business is down but she attributes part of that to her location.

“We’re right downtown and a lot of our restaurant business has dropped,” she said. “We just don’t have the downtown core people here for lunch. But our dinner business has picked up as people want an alternative for cooking another dinner.”

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