Updated: Feb 18
Interviewed by Jake Breen.
Never in a million years did I think we would be in the middle of a pandemic in rural Nova Scotia. It came upon us very quickly, so we need to be prepared for the future.
Please state your name and occupation. You can list your workplace if you are comfortable.
I am representing Gary’s Groceries. My name is Angela Meagher and my father Gary Brow is the owner of Gary’s Groceries.
What are your hobbies/interests?
Traveling (although not much lately), baking, boating, beaching and spending time with family.
What motivates or inspires you (personally or professionally)?
True customer service, it's going that extra mile to help people. The more you put into something the more positive return you will have.
Our whole family was spending countless hours cleaning, delivering, stocking and also sourcing supplies that were very difficult to obtain to meet customer demands.
How have you coped and managed with the difficulties of the pandemic?
It’s been a lot of work and I think the first wave was harder because COVID was new. We wanted to make sure we were current with regulations and had to adapt our business to do this. (Wall Sanitizer, Plastic Protector at Cash Register, Floor Stickers, Additional Cleaning Protocols). Now with Wave 2 around ramping up I feel it is reinforcing what we already know and ensuring we are staying current with provincial business standards and regulations.
How has the pandemic impacted your life? How have things been different for you during the pandemic compared to before the pandemic?
The first month of the pandemic was quiet. We spent a lot more time at home and maintained that strict one family bubble. Starting in April our business became very busy due to a lot of community residents wanting to shop more local and our store offering delivery. Our whole family was spending countless hours cleaning, delivering, stocking and also sourcing supplies that were very difficult to obtain to meet customer demands. Although life slowed down in terms of sports and recreational activities our time was spent maintaining our business.
What has been one good thing that has happened to you in 2020? Is there a particularly memorable moment/experience you have had during the pandemic you would like to share?
Our business [was] recognized by community members and nominated for the effort we put into customer service. We were awarded a “Shine On” award from the local Reporter. Also how influential social media has been on growing our business. It is very rewarding to receive all the positive comments and getting to meet lots of great people from all over the province who have stopped in to shop. Also, it was nice to just get back to the basics and not always need to rush to be somewhere. We tended to see this the first few months however “busy hectic life” is slowly reintroducing itself.
If you could go back in time and speak to someone pre-covid, what advice would you give them?
Don’t skimp on protocol, rules & regulations, and don’t take anything for granted. Never in a million years did I think we would be in the middle of a pandemic in rural NS.
It came upon us very quickly so we need to be prepared for the future. Anything is possible!
Please give a brief description of your job. What does your position entail?
Owner/Staff Member of Gary’s Groceries. Retail/Customer Service. We deal with groceries, lottery, bakery, and gifts.
What is something about your job/role that most people might not know about?
My Dad Gary was a trained baker at Fanny Farmer Cooking School in Boston. He managed hotel kitchens and cooked on boats prior to buying the store. This past July he has owned Gary’s Groceries for 35 years.
What has working through a pandemic been like? What are some challenges you face on a day-to-day basis?
Some minor challenges with staffing early in the pandemic but we have a great group of employees. They were fabulous through the whole thing and spent extra time cleaning and keeping up with protocols. We had a lot of issues also early on accessing certain products for the store (cleaners, flour, yeast, etc), but we managed and sourced other suppliers to make it work.
How have you adapted to working in the pandemic?
Working with a mask on and having to social distance. Making sure we control customer numbers as our business is not very large. You do what you need to do.
How have you felt about working during a pandemic (especially during the early stages)? Has there been added stress/anxieties?
Has not been too bad. We are very fortunate we stayed busy as a small business. This pandemic has had a significant negative impact on other small businesses so we consider ourselves very lucky. Trying to ensure the safety of our staff and customers.