Maybe you've seen their white delivery vans, with their red apple logo, cruising around the neighbourhood, or you regularly await the arrival of your groceries in their plastic tubs to your doorstep. Vancouver-based SPUD has been bringing groceries to homes - and even workplaces - locally and in Victoria, Calgary, and Edmonton, for a few years now, but nothing had quite prepared them for the last couple of weeks, as the COVID-19 crisis took the nation in its grip.
Users of the online ordering service reported massive site outages, as well as orders coming in with an unprecedented number of shorted items.
Order deadlines, typically set at 8 p.m. the night before your scheduled delivery day, have been rolled back to 3 p.m.
Customers were cautioned that delivery days were fully booked, and SPUD has sent out several emails urging ordering a week in advance.
On Thursday, SPUD CEO Peter van Stolk sent out a letter to customers to detail the "dramatic steps" their operation is undertaking in order to continue to supply Metro Vancouver residents with the "essential service" of groceries - namely their organic and sustainably-focused offerings.
"None of us have operated in a pandemic, so this is new grounds for all of us," explains van Stolk.
SPUD staff who can work at home are doing so. Because their warehouse is a closed operation, and not open to the public, SPUD is able to focus on providing a "safe environment" at their "locked down" facility. They have been sanitazing each delivery bin - which remain in the possesion of customers until their next scheduled delivery day, at which time they are returned to the warehouse.
"We acknowledge the responsibility we have at this time. We also know that this will not be over soon, so as a company we are working tirelessly to prepare for consistency and dependability," adds van Stolk.
In the wake of news of layoffs across multiple sectors, SPUD happens to be hiring, and they're turning to one industry in particular: Restaurants.
"We are working with local restaurants who were forced to close by hiring their team members to support us during this period," says van Stolk in his message.
Additonally, they are working with other existing businesses to keep their drivers and trucks going by having them work for SPUD.
They're also exploring how to delivery groceries in boxes, since they have bins out that they need to fill new orders.
For those who cannot - or choose not to - go into grocery stores at this time, SPUD, when it's working properly, can help a lot of Metro Vancouver residents get what they need. One of SPUD's advantages is that they have always offered "contactless" delivery, and they have a huge delivery area, serving areas where no or few other grocery stores serve.
Van Stolk concludes: "I also believe that over the next few weeks, we will all deal with issues that we have never faced before and in those moments we will find our true inner strength. The strength to smile when we are frustrated, the strength to be sensitive and compassionate knowing that other people are facing burdens far greater than we are. The strength to trust that this will end and we will be stronger."
Oh: And wash your hands!
Full disclosure: I'm a longtime SPUD customer, (and occasionally a disgruntled one, as their customer service team could attest anytime over the past 18 months) and I received this message from the CEO because I'm a customer, not because it's a press release. I don't personally receive any compensation from SPUD for writing this, nor does V.I.A.