'Come with a purpose': Garden centres ask people to plan ahead when shopping during stay-at-home order
KITCHENER -- While the Ontario government looks at extending the provincial stay-at-home order, some businesses in Waterloo Region allowed to stay open have seen a business boom.
Meadow Acres Garden Centre in Petersburg had a full parking lot with cars coming in and out on Saturday.
The owner told CTV News he appreciates the business, but admitted it was busier than expected. The busy day on Saturday prompted him to shift staff around to help manage the crowds. He said staff would be redirecting customers to curbside pickup if possible moving forward on Thursdays to Sundays, when business seems to be picking up.
At Grobe Nursery and Garden Centre in Breslau, owner Perry Grobe said they had made adjustments once again during the pandemic.
“We are very blessed to be open but we have limitations to what we can do,” said Grobe.
Staff ask the public to pre-plan their visit and not browse without knowing what they want, to shorten shopping times.
“We would like them to come with a purpose or a plan for visiting,” Grobe said.
As per the stay-at-home order, garden centres are allowed to operate at 25 per cent capacity. At Grobe’s, that means about a 100 customers are allowed inside. They have the ability to have more people outside, but their cash registers are indoors. Staff asked customers to practice patience and follow the rules of physically distancing.
"We’ve tried very hard to make sure our queue lines to get in are small. We’ve tried very hard to ensure that our queue lines to check out our small. That people are being spaced here,” said Grobe.
The stay-at-home order means businesses deemed essential, like garden centres, can stay open.
“We believe we are essential. We understand that people want to produce food in their own gardens and need to find these things,” Grobe said.
Zahid Butt, a public health expert with the University of Waterloo, said gardening is a safe outdoor activity for households, but at the same time is encouraging people to stay home if they can help it.
“Just avoid those long lines and stay at home. If you need something order it online,” Butt said.
He suggested if you do have to go out to shop, you should plan ahead.
“Go and pick whatever you need to come back. You don’t have to stay there you don’t have to multiple trips,” Butt said.
In a statement to CTV News, the province continues to urge all Ontarians to stay home except for essential purposes, and added it's up to local enforcement to enforce compliance if needed.
Both Grobe’s and Meadow Acres said they will continue to let customers shop, but in the safest way possible, as the health of customers and staff is top priority.