Oatley IGA owners Lisa and Gordon Edwards have shown particular loyalty to senior customers during the lockdown.
They have turned their business into a community hub to protect older shoppers from COVID-19.
Edwards has navigated travel permits and restrictions to increase the ability to deliver groceries to vulnerable people.
“Whether they call, come in or get a delivery, we get a yarn because it’s the only time some customers get to talk to someone,” Ms Edwards said.
“We know our regulars, and if we haven’t heard from anyone in a while, we check in or ask around to make sure they are OK.
“We are keeping in touch with a woman who just turned 104 and her daughter to continue getting supplies. She actually sent us a birthday cake that was so kind.”
When she panicked about buying stripped shelves of essential items, Mrs. Edwards responded quickly.
“During the first lockdown, we made a waiting list with toilet paper so that older customers were not in danger in the crowd or left empty-handed,
“I was worried that the seniors were waiting outside for the truck to show up, which was what happened, and then got caught in the rush.
“So we made a list of seniors to make sure they got their supplies.
“Fortunately, everyone is only taking what they need this time.”
Ms Edwards said seniors are loyal customers, many have used the store for decades.
IGA Oatley thanks them for their loyalty by holding a Christmas lunch every year.
“We keep it at the local elementary school. We deliver the food and the students serve the serving,” Ms. Edwards said.
“We usually get about 200 to 250 seniors a day. It’s a wonderful event.”
Mrs Edwards is also grateful that she has been able to keep staff employed and even hire new people.
“I am so grateful to our staff for all their efforts,” she said. “They work so hard and keep on helping people.”
Oatley MP Mark Coure thanked Mr and Mrs Edwards and their team for the important role they play in keeping communities connected.
“Supermarkets are so important to our everyday lives, especially for some older people who may find it impossible or difficult to order online delivery,” Coure said.
“Locals trust these businesses for more than just groceries; a real testament to how this pandemic can bring us together.”
NSW Office of Community Safety and Cohesion Director Pia van de Zandt said it was these types of community initiatives that helped people thrive in challenging times.
“We are happier and healthier when we can meaningfully participate in our community,” van de Zandt said.
“It’s people taking this extra step in lockdown that helps create stronger, safer and more inclusive communities.”
Working together can help get COVID-19 under control.