Bahamians greeted the highly anticipated reopening of liquor stores with enthusiasm yesterday, as many stores saw long lines and large demand.
Base Road Wholesale Bar on Nassau Street was a beehive of activity, with masked employees rushing to and fro as they fulfilled curbside pickup orders from patrons waiting in the parking lot.
A large truck of additional supplies was being unloaded when The Nassau Guardian visited, and several would-be shoppers hovered near the store’s entrance, attempting to get inside.
The business’ owner, George Robinson Jr., was one of the staff members denying the steady stream of shoppers entry and instead directing them to order in advance.
“It’s very hectic,” Robinson said when asked how the reopening has been going for his business.
“I wasn’t anticipating all this crowd, but I know the people are looking for something to drink. But we have to control the crowd.”
He added, “A lot of people are trying to walk in, but we’re not doing any walk-ins. You have to use the Kraven app or call us by phone and place your order and it would be delivered later on. But no walk-ins.”
Kraven is one of several local delivery apps for restaurants, and now liquor stores, too.
As Robinson spoke with The Guardian, several Kraven employees dressed in bright orange company shirts continued moving about, swiftly entering the store to pick up orders before driving off to deliver the goods.
“We have some other wholesale customers who are calling in their order and we will deliver it to them, but the app is working very well,” Robinson said.
“And again, [there is] the opportunity for employment, because today we are seeing about 20 to 25 of them on the road doing delivery, and it’s going pretty smoothly.”
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis on Sunday announced that anti-COVID-19 restrictions for some businesses are being relaxed, meaning that non-essential businesses such as liquor stores now have permission to operate given they follow social distancing protocols.
Some liquor stores seemed to be following regulations to a “T”.
At Liquid Courage on Patton Street, off Mackey Street, patrons waited patiently in their cars for their orders to be fulfilled.
A staff member equipped with a face mask and gloves could be seen exiting the store to bring orders out before moving on to the next one.
Meanwhile, a long line of patrons waited along the side of Island Wines and Spirits on Mackey Street.
That store was also bustling with activity as staff members, also equipped with masks and gloves, brought orders out of the shop and loaded them into shoppers’ cars.
But at Joslee Wholesale & Retail Liquor on Madeira Street, a small group of frustrated patrons outside was beginning to crowd the shop’s locked entrance.
Some were not wearing masks, and one or two appeared inebriated already, but everyone The Guardian spoke with said they had shown up due to having difficulty reaching the store over the phone.
Despite the “hectic” influx of customers, however, Robinson said he’s happy that his staff can return to work.
“I’m happy in a way, especially for my staff. [I] was still paying them and now [we’ve been] given the opportunity to make some money this week,” he said.
“Hopefully, in another two weeks or so there, we’ll be able to open up to the public and we can do social distancing like the food stores and the pharmacy.”
Robinson also added that he plans on paying his success forward by using part proceeds of his sales yesterday and today to donate 500 parcels of groceries to Bain Town residents.