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The grocery and drug stores are all open, and you can still get a cocktail and a donut
In the light of unprecedented economic closures, Vancouver Island businesses are finding ways to adapt. Last week, we ran down a list of Victoria companies getting creative in order to safely stay open, and in the days since we’ve found many more. The entries below aren't nearly comprehensive, but they provide a good portrait of a city carrying on in spite of adversity.
Did we miss anything? To find out for sure if it's open through COVID-19, check the Province of BC's list of COVID-19 essential services. A whole ecosystem of behind-the-scenes operators are still functioning to keep society running, from box factories to office cleaners to truckers to pulp and paper mills.
Grocery stores throughout Victoria remain operational and well-stocked, but check ahead for diminished hours. In addition to better cleaning protocols, most have installed tape guides to encourage proper social distancing between customers. Wal-Mart and Costco have largely recovered from the initial run on supplies, and in some cases have been able to remove customer limits on supplies such as toilet paper and wipes. Pepper’s Foods has installed special plexiglas screens at checkouts to shield clerks from customers. The Root Cellar has shifted its deli to all pre-packed and still has its coffee bar open.
Thrifty Foods’ 10 locations in Greater Victoria are open daily from 8am to 8pm with a reserved seniors shopping hour from 8am to 9am at all locations. Meanwhile, Save on Foods seven locations in Greater Victoria are also open daily from 8am to 8pm with an extra 7am to 8am morning hour for seniors and at-risk community members only. Delivery is available, as is contactless pickup.
The following grocery stores have also implemented special opening hours for seniors and other vulnerable groups:
Pharmacies have been designated an essential service, so it's safe to assume that your regular provider is still open, but is probably running under limited hours and with social distancing measures.
Prescriptions and in-store products at Heart Pharmacy’s five locations are being offered via delivery for free, just contact your location. Stores are otherwise open, while the 9am to 10am hour is being reserved for seniors and at-risk clients to shop.
Shoppers Drug Mart, with nine locations in greater Victoria, is offering senior discounts of 20 per cent for the first hour of shopping each day, in addition to all day Thursday, provided you have a PC Optimum Card. London Drugs and Pharmasave locations are also open.
Most liquor stores remain open with limited hours, stricter cleaning schedules and requirements to keep at least two meters from staff and fellow customers. BC Liquor Stores have cancelled all their tasting events, have suspended bottle return and are now closed on Sundays.
Most cannabis stores are operational with new hours and social distancing in effect. Call ahead to your preferred supplier to confirm they're not sold out.
It's a similar deal with vape stores, although E-Clectic Vape is still observing normal operating hours.
While its brewpub and guesthouse are closed, the provision store run by Spinnakers is open, offering handcrafted beers and ciders, as well as fresh bread, pastries, and house-made malt vinegar.
While its tasting room is closed, the rural location of Sea Cider, an organic heirloom Saanichton, remains open for bottle sales of fine French and English-style ciders.
Swan's Brewery and Pub is closed, of course, but their liquor store is still open, and pulling much longer hours than the government shops. The store has a completely contactless shopping method; just tell a clerk what you want and they'll get it for you.
Saanich's Symphony Vineyard is offering delivery as well as bottle sales from 9 to 12, Thursday to Saturday.
Vancouver Island Brewing is now offering free delivery for all orders of 24 cans or more. Meanwhile, its brick-and-mortar location has been converted into a drive-thru: “Honk or knock on the door and we'll be right over to take your order.” Phillips Brewing is offering similar delivery and drive-thru services. Hoyne Brewing is offering free home delivery with a minimum purchase of $60.
You can visit Driftwood, the makers of the beloved Fat Tug IPA, and pay onsite with a tap-enabled payment card. They will also deliver to your doorstep in Victoria, Oak Bay, Esquimalt, Vic West, Colwood, Langford, Saanich, Saanichton and Sidney.
Pilsners, pale ales and a black currant table beer are available for delivery and pickup from Whistle Buoy, a small batch brewer that focuses on Vancouver Island ingredients. It’s a new type of business in the centre of Victoria, after a 2018 zoning bylaw change allowed beer, wine and spirit production in the downtown core.
For Victoria’s army of residents newly working out of their home, office retail giant Staples remains open with reduced hours, restricted capacity and the option for “contactless curbside pickup.” Monk Office Supplies is also open on a limited schedule, but is encouraging customers to either get their purchases delivered or call ahead to have store staff prepare the purchases for pickup.
Just as computers become more critical than ever before, that doesn't mean they haven't stopped breaking. ReStart Computer is still open for such matters, and is offering a free service where they will disinfect any electronic device brought into their shop.
Victoria’s Home Depot locations are still open, but with shorter hours and strict guidelines on social distancing. You’ll be met at the door by staff (from a distance of at least two meters) to ensure that only a limited number of customers are allowed into the store at any one time.
Canadian Tire has been deemed an essential service and its locations remain open, albeit on a limited schedule to allow for more thorough cleaning. However, many retail chains owned by Canadian Tire, including Mark’s and Sport Chek, remain closed.
The Finishing Store is offering free delivery throughout Greater Victoria and Nanaimo, as well as a socially distanced retail location.
Garden supply stores are deemed an essential service, if only for the fact that they help us grow our own food. Seaberry Garden and Flower, among others, are sticking to relatively normal opening hours.
Only two retail tenants at The Bay Centre are still operating: Coast Capital Savings and Great Canadian Dollar Store, with LensCrafters and OptiCanada open by appointment. Earls Kitchen, Johnny Rockets and Marble Slab Creamery are all open for takeout only.
Westshore Town Centre still has most of its shops open, and its sitdown restaurants have shifted to takeout.
Most Dollarama locations across the country remain open seven days a week, but with adjusted store hours for each location. Dollarama’s corporate headquarters said it is encouraging stores to reserve the first hour of shopping each day for seniors and people with chronic health conditions. Greater Victoria's six locations of the Great Canadian Dollar Store are also continuing to open their doors.
With the shuttering of the MV Coho and the Clipper, BC Ferries is now the only marine passenger link to the mainland. The ferry operator is asking that all but essential travelers avoid their sailings, and it is now permitted to ride the ferry without leaving the vehicle deck. Sailings are also being curtailed to account for a more than 50% drop in traffic. If you show up at a ferry terminal showing possible symptoms of COVID-19, meanwhile, you could be turned away.
While BC Transit services are still up and running, some routes have been cancelled while others are operating on reduced service. Check before making your trip. Passengers are being asked to board through the rear doors of all vehicles and fares are free for the next month.
Harbour Air has shut down, but HeliJet is still flying limited routes at 50% capacity. They will also turn away any passenger showing symptoms.
Fol Epi. This local organic bakery and patisserie has kept both its locations open as a window service with reduced hours. Workers in the service industry, as well as medical and healthcare workers, receive a 20% discount.
It’s still possible to enjoy the outdoor patio at the Harbour Road location of Caffe Fantastico due to its immense social distancing-friendly size. Otherwise, it’s offering free neighbourhood delivery of beans or hot coffee.
From 12 to 4 pm, Monday to Friday, Discovery Coffee is offering multiple packages, which they will deliver for free in the Greater Victoria Area, that include bags of premium coffee, pour over drippers, filters, an Aeropress, coldbrew and (on Wednesdays only) donuts.
Coffee, baked goods and other savoury and sweet snacks, and bulk beans are all for sale out of a take-out window at Oak Bay roastery Hide and Seek.
Fresh pizza dough is among the offerings at Oak Bay’s Ottavio Italian Bakery & Deli, but there’s high demand when it’s available so it sells out fast. Also available for pickup or delivery are high end cheeses, charcuterie, pasta, gelato and anchovies.
Not only can you walk in and pick up a cappuccino and a bit of locally sourced, fresh baked French pastry, but La Roux Patisserie is delivering to anywhere in downtown, Oak Bay, James Bay and Ross Bay.
Silk Road Tea has dropped their delivery prices and are also offering curbside pickup.
Shanzee's Biscuit Cafe is open for pickup or delivery.
If it involves teaching, it's a good bet that it's closed. However, Victoria's music teachers have been in the unique situation of being able to shift their services online. Colwood Music School, Taber Music School and the Victoria Conservatory of Music, among others, are ensuring that if you're going to be trapped at home, you might as well work on your arpeggios.
From 3:00 - 8:00 pm everyday, one of Victoria’s most popular cocktail bars, Little Jumbo, is offering “cocktail set-ups”; a fully mixed blend of ingredients ready for you to drop your spirit of choice into at home.
Beginning Wednesday, the caterer Twist of Fate — known for its locally sourced craft cocktails — will also begin delivering cocktail mixes to complement the alcohol you have stocked up at home. Payments will be taken by etransfer and Twist of Fate will provide a recipe and video tutorials.
All restaurants within the Province of BC have been ordered to shift to take-out or delivery; marking the first time that several notable Victoria restaurants will be offering the service. There are far too many restaurants in the city to cover comprehensively here, so check out your favourite spot to see if they've shifted to take-out.
Victoria's five locations of The Village have closed and shifted their entire business model overnight to one of offering gourmet grocery box delivery. They'll bring you cooked meals and liquor, deliver the ingredients to make it yourself, or even arrange toilet paper delivery.
Wind Cries Mary is one of a handful of farm-to-table restaurants that have brought Victoria’s downtown dining scene to new heights. It’s now offering pick-up and curbside delivery with a modified menu. A three course dinner of fresh burrata, hand rolled gnudi with lamb, and a chocolate torte dessert is available now for $35.
Asian street food staples including steamed bao, ramen, and bibimbap (with vegan options) are available for pick-up at Chinatown’s Bao Restaurant. To boot, you can grab a Vietnamese coffee while you wait.
Veneto Bar Ristorante, based out of the Hotel Rialto, has turned itself into a takeaway spot and its gourmet pastas are only $15 at pickup. If you buy food at Veneto you get 10 per cent off any purchases at Vintage Spirits, the Rialto’s in-house liquor store specializing in top quality wines.
Fresh baguette and pâté are among the classic menu items at Vietnamese sandwich shop Ba Le, now operating as a takeout joint, while minced pork, stir fried tofu and grilled lemongrass chicken broaden the possibilities for a daytime snack or a full-on meal.
Most bike shops are operating normally. In addition to the entries below, check with your local shop for any new hours or procedures they may have.
Giant Victoria is open to a maximum of three customers at a time, and asks that you come prepared knowing what you want to buy. Bike repairs are available, but must be booked in advance by phone or email. Delivery for the purchase of any new bikes is free within the Greater Victoria area.
Fort Street Cycle is primarily open for service and repairs, which you are encouraged to book in advance by calling. The store is open for equipment and bike shopping, but the number of customers allowed in is being restricted to small numbers at a time.
Pit Stop Bikes in Harris Green is still open, and will arrange curbside sales and service for those who don't want to enter the shop.
Jason Flower, owner of the record shop Supreme Echo, will bring vinyl LPs to you on his bike. A list of more than 600 albums in stock — including originals from Jimi Hendrix, Neil Young and Leonard Cohen — is here.
Munro’s Books, Victoria’s most venerable bookseller, will slip you your preferred read through the front door. While the bookseller’s retail location is closed, you can still phone in orders or requests and staff will come meet you when you knock during operating hours.
Russell Books is offering a contact-free pickup window for all orders, and free shipping on orders over $50 throughout North America.
Used bookseller Bastion Books notably has a great collection of colouring books and puzzles, as well as more that they’re able to order in. Walk by their storefront window for a display of curated selections from staff. Meanwhile, the shop is offering delivery throughout Victoria.
Bolen Books is offering $5 shipping on any order within BC, and at-door pickup from 12 to 2, Monday to Friday.
The narrow but packed indie shop Legends Comics closed its doors because its layout makes social distancing difficult, but phone orders are still accepted and staff will meet you at the door.
Jigsaw puzzles, games and big giant stuffed bunnies in time for Easter are all in stock at Oscar and Libby’s, an offbeat gift shop. Doorway tap and go sales are available, just knock on the front door. The pandemic has also motivated them to very quickly put together a web store. Oscar and Libby's sister shop, Kaboodles Toy Store, has also introduced a combination of web sales and tap-and-go.
Purveyor of new and used games across consoles, Hang and Play Videogames has waived local delivery fees and will bring your games (and batteries) to you where you need them. An inventory of games in stock is available on their website.
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