BARRY’S BAY – When the owners of Pantry Savings in Barry’s Bay took over the business in July 2019, they scarcely could have predicted the challenging times retail businesses would face less than a year later. Yet, despite the struggles of running a small business in the midst of a pandemic, the retail health food and bulk food store is going strong and offering many locally made products.
Sarah Van Hoof, who owns the store along with her mother Bernice Klatt, told The Valley Gazette that the support of local customers and the drivers who have stuck with them has been a crucial component of their ability to keep their doors open. Van Hoof said, “We would love to thank our customers…if it were not for them supporting us, we would not have been able to stay afloat during this pandemic. Our drivers that brought all of our supplies and stock, if it were not for them, our shelves would be bare…We all know how wonky Canadian weather can be, yet they came through.” She added, “…an overall thank you for bearing with us as we all try to get through this together.”
It has been a challenge for the store owners to keep up with the ever-changing demands for certain items they stock. Additionally, the availability of some items has been a challenge. Nevertheless, Van Hoof is grateful they have pulled through. She said, “We were lucky to have been able to stay open to our customers especially during all the different lockdowns and rules.”
When asked what she enjoys most about her work Van Hoof said, “Learning about all the different ways that supplements are used…for example, one supplement for one person could be used for a totally different use [than] for another person.”
Pantry Savings also has a wide range spices and specialty cooking products. Van Hoof said that learning about all the different ways that customers make use of the bulk items in their recipes is another important part of what makes her work enjoyable. She said that hearing about allergies and how people change their eating habits to become healthier is something else she enjoys.
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