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Asselin Your Independent Grocer. Submitted photo.

COVID-19 is changing local businesses

The COVID-19 emergency has caused local business owners to quickly change how they do business.

At the Crevier gas station and convenience store at the corner of Main and Tupper streets in Hawkesbury, owners Pana and Sudipta Chakraborty, and their son Victor are offering to deliver homemade food from their shop to people 70 and over, who should be remaining at home due to their increased susceptibility to COVID-19.

The selection they are offering includes egg sandwiches, chicken sandwiches, samosas, and pizza subs.

Sudipta, who is at home recovering from cancer surgery, said that when she and Pana moved to Canada from India, people were so helpful to them and they want to show their appreciation by giving back.

“I will beat the cancer, that’s for sure,” said Sudipta.

Business has declined at their establishment lately, but they are not going to worry.

“If we did that, it’s going to drive us crazy,” Sudipta said.

Bars and restaurants are closed under emergency orders, and that has affected usually busy places like Déja Vu on Main Street East in Hawkesbury.

“We’re operating at a loss, but we’re prepared to do that for the foreseeable future,” said owner Antonios Tsourounakis.

Déja Vu is open for delivery and take-out, and there is a 20 per cent discount right now on pick-up orders.

“Our delivery business is pretty much at the same level,” Tsourounakis said.

He has had to layoff staff, cancel private parties, and cancel bands that were scheduled to perform.

“The hardest thing was telling your staff you have to go on unemployment,” said Tsourounakis.

The grocery business has been rocked by the COVID-19 crisis due to customers panic-buying things like toilet paper.

“We’re just trying to put some stock on the shelves,” said Daniel Asselin, owner of Asselin Independent Grocer in Hawkesbury.

He has been assured by parent company Loblaws that a reliable supply of products will still be available from the warehouse.

Approximately 12 store employees are at home right now because they have returned from out-of-country travel or do not want to take the risk of coming to work.

From 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. each morning, the store is reserved for shoppers who are elderly or have health conditions that make them more vulnerable to COVID-19.  The store is closing at 8 p.m. nightly for thorough sanitizing.

Asselin said PC Express online orders for pick-up have doubled.  He is reminding customers to only allow one individual per family in the store while shopping.

On Monday, both Ontario and Quebec announced that all non-essential businesses in each province were to close.

Jamie Bogue of Bogue Photo in downtown Hawkesbury said the situation there is “not good.”

He is hoping for government assistance to provide some cash flow in order to stay in business.

However, Bogue’s other business, internet service provider IGS — is doing well because of increased demand for services while so many people are staying home and working.

Clothing stores were seeing less traffic before the closure order came.

“It’s definitely quiet,” said Dianne Dixon, co-owner of J.B. Dixon clothing in Lachute.  The store was closing at 7 p.m. instead of 9 p.m. nightly and remaining closed on Sundays.

Dixon had reduced staff hours and was using the time to get the spring stock out on the floor.

Sudipta and Pana Chakraborty, owners of the Crevier gas station and convenience store at the corner of Main and Tupper streets in Hawkesbury. Submitted photo.

 

James Morgan

James Morgan is a freelance contributor. He has worked for several print and broadcast media outlets. James loves the history, natural beauty, and people of eastern Ontario and western Quebec.

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