When Crofton resident Stephen Lyons enters the Real Canadian Superstore in Duncan, it’s like Norm coming into the bar on Cheers. Everybody knows his name.
Lyons, who has mobility issues, goes there almost every day and absolutely loves the place and the staff. It’s a social outing for him.
“It’s a good place for older people to come,” he said. “The people in that shop, they work hard and look after their customers. These people are great ambassadors for the store.
“The people that work there are so nice, so kind. I know about 50 per cent of them by name.”
Lyons’ only beef is the lack of available electric carts for those who are disabled to use to get around the store. There are only three of them and they’re either in poor working order or not working at all.
When he went in one day, none of the carts were operating and staff indicated it’s difficult, if not impossible, to get replacement parts for them.
Lyons thinks Loblaws, the ownership company, should be maintaining the carts and have more of them in the store in keeping with the demand from an ever-increasing seniors’ population here.
“They’re all broken, they’re not fit for use,” he said. “I go in every day – like a treat for me, like going into a club.”
Store management, Lyons added, would like to have six carts.
“I’ve talked to other people, they’re not very impressed,” he indicated. “I’ve spoken to them and they’re not very happy.”
But Lyons figures the hands of local store employees are tied and they can’t do much about the situation.
“They haven’t got the authority to do anything,” Lyons conceded. “They would love to say I would do anything to help you. They can’t.”
The Courier did not receive a reply to either an email inquiry nor a phone call to Loblaws public relations in Ontario.
However, Joe Sjodin, an assistant manager at the Duncan Real Canadian Superstore, conceded the pandemic creates challenges for getting parts to fix broken-down carts.
“Possibly we can request for more,” he said. “I don’t usually get much feedback.
“We look at how often they’re being used and how often they’re breaking down. I know we do have our aging population and they are used a lot more.”
Lyons was grateful to the Courier for looking into the matter and then sent an email himself. “I got so fed up,” he said.
Lyons did get a response from Precious (no last name given) in Superstore Customer Care.
“Your feedback is very valuable to us, as it is one of the best ways for us to improve and it’s very important to our continued success,” the message read in part.
“We thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. Accordingly, I have taken this opportunity to share your feedback with our store management team and they will be taking the necessary steps to address this appropriately.”
It may have been a coincidence, but the situation was much better on Friday, Dec. 4 when Lyons went into the store.
“The main thing is today for the first time ever I think they’ve finally gotten back and working,” he noted. “For the last week, they’ve only had one. The other day, I waited for an hour and a half.”
Lyons hopes the parent company takes notice and realizes the need is there on a regular basis to keep the carts working.
“It’s a good retirement area,” he stressed. “A lot of people move here from the Mainland or Alberta. The amount of disabled people or clinically old people is tremendous.”
When a cart isn’t available for his use, Lyons said the staff will bend over backwards to get items for him. Sometimes he’ll only go for three items but it’s potentially a lot more if he could be mobile around the store on a cart.
“That’s just the beginning,” he said. “I’ll go up and down the aisles and I’ll get more stuff.
“On average, I spend at least between $75 and $100 every visit, every day. I could get loads of stuff.”
Lyons even thought about getting his own personal electric cart to take to the store, but that wasn’t feasible.
“You can’t attach it to the Rolls Royce,” he quipped. “My other car, I would put it on it and it would tip over.”