Small-town Ontario grocer lives in trailer, works 16 hours a day to keep community fed
Published Tuesday, May 5, 2020 3:38PM EDT Last Updated Tuesday, May 5, 2020 7:49PM EDT
KITCHENER -- A small-town grocery store owner has been putting in long days and sleeping in a trailer after two people close to him were diagnosed with COVID-19.
Mike Carter owns the Independent Food Town in Milverton, Ont., the town's only grocery store.
At the end of March, he lost a close friend to the coronavirus. Craig MacDonald was also a grocer in the nearby community of St. Marys.
MacDonald's was the first death reported by Huron Perth Public Health. He had tested positive for the virus after a trip to Mexico.
"For him to pass away at all is a horrible, horrible thing," Carter says.
Then in April, Carter's wife, who works at Stratford General Hospital, also tested positive.
"My wife had very mild symptoms and was very lucky, but at the beginning you don’t know that," he remembers.
Since then, Carter has been spending almost his entire day at his grocery store.
He has been working 16- to 18-hour days to try to keep a safe and healthy environment for his staff and customers.
He says he has committed to the long hours so that he and his staff can restock and disinfect the store after it closes, which is earlier than usual so his staff can have some much-needed time off.
"We decided very early that our staff came first, our staff’s safety came first. And if we upset a few customers, so be it," Carter says.
The sanitary efforts aren't just for his staff, either.
They're also being extra diligent in an effort to make customers feel safe and comfortable shopping while also practicing physical distancing.
"I never would’ve guessed that meant moving out of my house."
Carter lived in the trailer behind the store for almost than a month after his wife was diagnosed.
"I live a block from here. But a block is a long, long way when you can’t go home," he says.
He was anticipating being able to move back home soon, but he says his wife tested positive again just a few days ago, leaving him unsure of when he'll be able to move back home.
He has since moved into a nicer trailer parked in his driveway, however, so that they could be a little bit closer.
It’s not easy, but Carter say he will do whatever it takes to keep his community safe and fed.