Turning a Long Lake Convenience Store into a Curbside Grocery Service
Aug 21, 2020 — For many North Country businesses, the coronavirus pandemic has been devastating. But for a few, it’s been an opportunity to adapt and innovate.Included in that number is the Adirondack Trading Post, just outside Long Lake, owned by Vickie Sandiford. Last summer, the store was a convenience store and gift shop. This summer, it’s turned into something different.
Sandiford has completely rearranged the Adirondack Trading Post, a 500 square-foot space on Route 30. The gifts and souvenirs that used to line the walls are now outside, on the covered porch. Inside, there’s a three-door refrigerator, and benches and shelves covered in boxes of food.
“The store has really turned into a warehouse of produce, and it’s a mess!”
Sandiford has closed the store at the start of the pandemic, not knowing when she would be able to reopen. Then, on a whim in April, she sent out an inventory list and told folks they could order groceries and pick them up from the porch. The response was immediate and enthusiastic.Here's how her new business model works: on Saturdays, Sandiford emails out an eight-page order form that includes produce, dry goods, meat, preserved foods like jams and pickles, snacks, and even soft drinks. She asks for people to send it back by Monday morning, so she can start ordering food, which arrives by truck by Wednesday. Then Sandiford and her one employee start packing.
“We take each order and we walk around the store like we’re playing grocery store, like when you were a little kid. And we pack it up and send an invoice through email, and that’s their cue that their order’s ready. They pay it online and come and ring the bell [at the store] and pick it up!
She says at first they were pretty disorganzied, but that they’ve got the routine down now, and her sales are actually better than they were this time last year. Sandiford is fulfilling between 30 and 50 orders a week, and serving not just Long Lake residents, but people from Blue Mountain Lake, Newcomb, and even Saranac Lake.
“I'm very pleased! This is something I can continue in the winter, because not everybody wants to drive to Glens Falls or Tupper Lake in the winter, just to get a couple things.” Recently she got a huge order from a family camping at Lake Eaton. Several members of the family were high-risk for coronavirus,
"...so [the woman who ordered] was totally excited when she found out about it!"
Sandiford says she's producing a lot less food waste, because her customers are telling her exactly what to order, instead of her guessing. This model also feels safer to her. She has no plans to reopen the store to walk-in customers.
“God forbid that I get it, then I have to shut down and quarantine. Then people don't get groceries for two weeks. That would be a bummer [for myself], and financially as well!”