COVID Champions: The Irish Retailers Going Above And Beyond
Nobody could have predicted that in 2020 nipping to the shops wouldn’t be just a weekly necessity but a rare outing to the outside world, but in the past few trying months, retailers have taken on prime importance.
In a time of crisis, retailers have adapted and innovated to provide shoppers with the essentials, and they’ve gone above and beyond for the community.
Frontline cashiers and supermarket workers have been granted hero status as they serve the community while putting themselves at risk and grocers and supermarkets have proven to be a vital lifeline to Irish shoppers – and everyone has played their part.
From local charity drives and food bank donations to clever innovations and services ensuring vulnerable shoppers can access the essentials, retailers across the board have been doing their bit.
Here at Ireland’s Forecourt & Convenience Retailer we’ve launched COVID Champions. We want to shine a light on the retailers who have been going above and beyond for the community during these extremely trying times. Here are a few who have done just that.
O’Briens Centra in Mullingar, Westmeath, supplied food to frontline workers and ran a competition to help businesses to get back on their feet
It was keen determination and fast-acting innovation that set O’Briens Centra up to give back to the community.
“We put a good work ethic into it from the very beginning,” says O’Brien’s Centra’s part-owner Edel O’Brien. “We installed glass screens straightaway and put in hand stations for cleaning.”
As well as stepping up and offering free same day deliveries to elderly, vulnerable or self-isolating customers, O’Briens also gave back to other frontline workers, including all HSE and emergency services staff.
“We supplied free teas and coffees to frontline workers, and free pizzas to them,” says Edel. Meanwhile the launch of their Charity Special Offer saw €2 donated to North Westmeath Hospice for every 12inch caramico pizza deal purchased.
As businesses began to get back on their feet, O’Briens ran their Community Spirit competition to support local businesses and encourage the community to shop local. They gave away vouchers for four local businesses to encourage shoppers back in store.
Maxol Westport on Newport Road set up a donation box to help struggling members of the community.
Maxol Westport recognised that this is a difficult time for many and set about helping those struggling in the community by setting up a donation box in store.
The staff at Maxol Westport said they welcomed donations for those in need in the community, and that they hoped during this time of crisis their loyal and kind customers could help them to help others.
When purchasing their shopping at the store, their customers were invited to purchase one small token of kindness – such as toiletries or non-perishable food items – and pop it in the donations box.
Yvonne Duffy, store manger at Maxol Westport said it had been a rewarding experience and the initiative had received a great response. “Here at Maxol, we decided to start up a donation box with the aim of helping those in the community who were struggling due to COVID-19. I contacted VDP in the hope that they would distribute the goods equally throughout the community of Westport. It’s still ongoing and has been very successful so far. We hope to continue to support our community.”
As well as this, the staff at Maxol Westport helped cocooning customers get their hands on the essentials. Yvonne Duffy explains: “Some older people were unable to do their own shopping so we offered them a service which helped them get their essentials. The customer would ring us, give us their shopping list and we would deliver to them. We also priortise older people when they are shopping in Maxol so that their experience is safe.”
Swift’s Eurospar in Lisnaskea, Fermanagh, donated 200 food parcels to help those in need.
“During the pandemic we worked hard to support those in need,” says Darren Given, general manager at Swift’s Eurospar. “On two separate occasions we dropped 100 food parcels (200 in total) to the elderly and vulnerable so that they wouldn’t go hungry and so they had the essentials.
“Lisnaskea has a local foodbank. We donated to it and also set up a trolly instore for customers who wished to donate food items. We also helped the local football team with their donation to the food bank.
“As well as this, we enhanced our food voucher scheme. We have meal vouchers where a customer pre-pays for meals for a family member in need and their carer can come in and pick up a hot meal without handling cash. Meaning less interaction at tills and cash handling. More families took up on this at the height of COVID.
“We also set up email and Facebook orders for those in need which is still currently happening. Initially we linked up with local community groups to help with deliveries but as their volunteers returned to work we kept up the service ourselves. We are now working on an online ordering app for all customers as we see this as a vital service in rural areas.”
Darren Given said it had been a rewarding experience. “As a family run business in the heart of the community we felt it was the right thing to do. We understood that it was unprecedented times and wanted to support those most in need such as the elderly and vulnerable. Unfortunately many people either didn’t have the means to get shopping or have family who could help during the lockdown so along with local volunteers, staff and local councillors we dropped bags of essential food items to those most in need. The local suppliers we use also helped out in providing some of the food items for the bags, showing real community spirit.
“Being the community Supermarket in Lisnaskea and Roslea we knew we had to step up and support the community who have supported us throughout the years.”
Do you want to feature in our next installment of COVID Champions? Get in touch with Victoria, at firstname.lastname@example.org.