Perelandra Natural Foods is known for its organic and natural foods but recently, it has received praise for the changes it has made amid the pandemic.
The grocer, which operates a single store in Brooklyn with retail space of about 4,000 square feet, has limited traffic to 12 customers at a time, in addition to other measures such as disinfecting four times a day or more; adding plexiglass barriers; and requiring customers to wear masks as well as use hand sanitizer or put on fresh gloves before entering the store.
“[Twelve] was the number that we felt was the maximum number of customers we could have in the store and it did not feel crowded,” says President Allison Buckingham. “Many customers have told us we are the only place they feel safe shopping.”
With no precedent to follow, Perelandra has been operating with a “precautionary principle in mind, where I'm going to do the safest thing until somebody can tell me that it doesn't make sense,” Buckingham says.
Perelandra has also looked to staff for suggestions on how to create a safer shopping environment for customers, while regularly checking in with them to make sure they too feel safe.
“We were meeting with the staff right from the get-go and saying this is what we're doing. How are you feeling? What can we be doing better? Is there anything we could be doing that would make you feel safer?,” says Buckingham, who added that anyone who did feel uncomfortable was able to take a leave of absence.
And no one has been laid off, she says. Even when the kitchen closed in the beginning, Perelandra pivoted and that staff fulfilled other roles such as filling pickup and delivery orders.