From the old fashioned price tags on products, fruits and vegetables along the sidewalk, and baby pictures up on the walls, tiny Superette Foods appears as independent and local as a grocery store gets in Nanaimo in 2020.
“It smells like an old village grocery store in Europe,” said customer Veronique Marie.
The Nanaimo corner store has been in business for 44 years and for longtime customers, it has become a member of the family.
“Corner store, but it’s more than that,” said customer Megan Arundel.
“It’s everything really. It’s a neighbourhood gem,” said customer Stephanie Richards.
“I’ve been coming here, my parents used to shop here.”
“My grandparents shopped here back when they used to do tabs,” said employee Annie Coe.
After decades on Nanaimo’s Albert Street, the tiny locally owned independent is in trouble. COVID-19 has reduced the number of customers allowed inside the little store, so fewer people have been coming in, all while the cost of COVID-19 safety precautions goes up.
“So people are standing in line,” said Marie.
“That’s probably a deterrent too.”
Manager Shari Sorensen has grown worried that the shop may not make it through this pandemic.
“We have eight staff that work here and rely on us for their income, so it’s a little bit scary,” said Superette Manager Shari Sorensen.
Sorensen said the loss of business is especially hard to bear because management is voluntarily giving all their employees danger pay. It’s costing them more she said but the owner insisted they had to do it.
“And we’re doing everything we can to keep our staff working and keep our community fed,” Sorensen said.
So longtime shoppers are doubling down and increasing their purchasing at the tiny shop that’s donated to so many community causes over the years.
“So please come,” said Marie.
“I’m prepared to do fundraising as well,” said Arundel.
“I don’t know what I’d do without it,” said Richards.