By Rui Yang Xu
Harinder Singh Toor hasn’t slept much over the last few weeks, staying longer than usual in his grocery store to serve customers stocking up with supplies because of COVID-19.
Toor, the owner of Punjab Food Center at 6635 Main St, said panic buying has forced him to bring on more employees.
“Some of our employees got sick, now they’re not feeling good. There’s some gone home, they are resting right now,” Toor said. “I’m very tired but I’m still working.”
Small grocery stores like Punjab Food Center, which normally caters to locals in their neighbourhood, have become overwhelmed with the demand from customers.
“Our rice and flour are all gone, we are restocking, but not a lot of stuff is coming right now,” Toor said.
The effects of panic buying on local stores have been noticed by customers like Ryan Kwan, a first-year Langara science student. Kwan said while some store aisles look normal, other shelves are noticeably different.
“There were some aisles that were pretty empty like canned foods mostly. There was also like no chicken, that was kind of weird,” Kwan said.
While many small grocery stores have been overwhelmed, a few stores have begun taking action.
Naresh Shukla, manager of Mother India at 6649 Main St, said the store already reduced the hours the store was open to four hours per day and has since closed down until the end of the month.
“My employees understand because it’s not anybody’s fault. This is Mother Nature so it happens,” Shukla said.
Along with that, Toor said staying open is a big risk for the health of himself and his employees, especially as they can’t be sure if the customers are infected and his staff members don’t have proper sanitary equipment such as face masks.
“We are still working every day and we feel like closing for a few weeks, but we’ll see how it goes,” Toor said.
The Voice contacted 19 other stores in South Vancouver including Produce Marketplace and Polo Farmers Market. All of them were too busy to speak on the matter.
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