After a tense situation at a southeast Walmart, a Calgary man is asking stores to adapt to the changing needs of the community amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Justin Frick said he’s been shopping for dozens of people forced to self-isolate but on Wednesday, his shopping trip ended with a visit from police.
“We all need to stay home, so I offer to go out — and it doesn’t matter how many people it is — I’ll buy your stuff,” Frick said.
“I know I look awful, because I look like I’m hoarding but I know what it’s for.”
Frick said several community members had asked him to pick up disinfectant for them and when he went to checkout, the cashier told him there was a limit of one per customer.
“There was no sign up anywhere saying limit one per customer,” Frick said.
“I asked to speak to a manager and they said they didn’t know when one would be available. So, I said, ‘I’ll wait, I’ve got nowhere else to be.’”
Frick said after more than two hours of waiting at the store and dealing with staff and managers, the police were called.
“People from Auburn Bay who made these orders were phoning Walmart customer service and saying, ‘He’s bringing it for us. Let him go through.’”
People were able to watch from their homes as the drama unfolded with Frick live streaming the encounter.
“When the police showed up, people started coming from Auburn Bay to the Walmart,” Frick said. “They were buying the disinfectant and saying, ‘Hey, we’re walking out with more than you’ll let him have.’”
In a statement to Global News, Walmart said it is aware of the incident and that there are product limits in stores across the country for items in high demand.
“There are signs posted throughout the store alerting customers about these limits,” Walmart corporate affairs manager Felicia Fefer said. “We are working hard with our suppliers to get products to our shelves as quickly as possible.”
“We hope to be in a place to start to reduce the number of limits we have in our stores soon.”
Other major retailers have also put limits in place during the pandemic because shoppers are panicking and stockpiling food and supplies.
“We would encourage everyone to only buy what they need to ensure that everyone can access the essentials,” Fefer said.
Frick said in the end, his interaction with Calgary police was positive and the store allowed him to buy four bottles of disinfectant.
Calgary police confirmed they attended the store for reports of a disturbance.
Frick now hopes that businesses will look at ways to work around and resolve these complex situations.
“If this is going to last for a while, maybe we can have community shoppers who are recognized by the stores and you have an ID card.”
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