We Care We Share
A UN Bhutan’s initiative for resilience tools for COVID-19
Making shopping safe and easy
From the minute she woke up, she thought about grocery shopping. Every morning she woke up, she would read about salt going out of stock, or the price of milk powder increasing. Karma Dema’s weekly grocery shopping errands became a daily chore and she had the physical distance to worry about as well.
In the midst of all the chaos, 8 Eleven supermarket in Thimphu acted immediately to the needs of their customers in response to COVID-19.
As soon as the first COVID-19 positive was announced in the country, 8 Eleven, which on a normal day would see about 25 to 45 customers at one time saw hundreds of people hoarding essential supplies, especially face masks, hand sanitizers and hand wash. In the rush to stock up, people had forgotten to maintain physical distancing and it went on for a few days.
Realizing the situation was going to cause more harm than good, the proprietor of 8 Eleven, BB Gurung and his team decided to close the store down for two and a half days to set in place safe measures to make the supermarket a safer place to shop. It was also an opportunity for his exhausted staff to take a break and recuperate.
They reopened the supermarket starting with allowing a maximum of 20 people at a time based on coupons. Each staff at 8 Eleven is seen wearing a face mask greeted with someone spraying hand sanitizer on customers’ hands as they enter the supermarket. Customers are normally encouraged to use mobile banking for making payments on purchases. They have also installed a handwashing facility and trained staff on preventive measures against COVID-19.
The 8 Eleven supermarket is also one of the 16 supermarkets and retailers identified and certified by the government to import goods during the lockdown period. To meet the demands of the rising number of smartphones, 8 Eleven also imported 30,000 phones. BB Gurung said these are challenging times and this is an opportunity for the private sector to help the government and the people of Bhutan. However, he also added this has been possible because the government has been very supportive of the private sector.
“Bringing in phones at a very reasonable price has helped students from lower-income families to access e-learning courses,” said BB Gurung. “This is the least we can do as our Genkhu (responsibility).”
On normal days, 8 Eleven usually stock up to last 7 to 10 days, since the pandemic started, today they stock up to last two months.
Should Bhutan go under a complete lockdown, to cater to the needs of the people, 8 Eleven launched its e-commerce platform for online shopping.
The supermarket also contributed Nu. 600,000 to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund to support the country in COVID-19 response. BB Gurung himself is a philanthropist. At the personal level, he supports animal rescue centers like the Maya Foundation, Bhutan Animal Rescue, Royal Society for Protection and Care of Animals, Jangsa Animal Trust Fund, REWA, Tarayana and Draktsho.
BB Gurung also also supports and encourages young mountain bikers to stay healthy and to stay engaged while they are currently out of school.
For more information on We Care, We Share initiative, pleaseclick here.
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