curbside pickup toronto

Toronto retail worker shares tips on how to be a good customer doing curbside pickup

A non-essential retail worker in Toronto has just shared some tips on how to be an awesome customer when doing curbside pickup, especially from small businesses.

"Looks like curbside shopping is going to remain a big part of our lives for the foreseeable future! As somebody who works non-essential retail and has been doing the curbside lifestyle for a while now, I wanted to give you some tips to be the very best customer you can be," wrote Robyn Cook on Facebook, followed by nine points on pickup etiquette.

Cook works for an independent fabric store, which is fortunately doing relatively well right now all things considered.

"The pandemic has been an unexpectedly busy time for fabric shops," Cook told blogTO. "With everybody making masks now, sales are through the roof. Fortunately, our shop has been able to operate pretty safely with minimal staff. We've been closed to the public since the first lockdown and just doing online retail."

Her post addresses everything from adding things to an order to wearing a mask, timeliness, getting familiar with a shop's system, tipping, placing multiple orders, being told "no" and patience.

"I think if you're not working retail right now, it's easy to overlook what's going on behind the scenes. Which is fine, people don't know what they don't know. I was hoping to just clarify a few things to make life easier for both retailers and consumers," says Cook.

"So far, people have been responding well to my post, which is what I expected. I believe most people are fundamentally nice and don't want to make life difficult for anybody, especially not right now. I'm glad to see that people are taking my post in the spirit it was intended, to be helpful and encourage us all to be kind and have some patience."

People have responded to the original post saying customers should have embraced all these behaviours years ago, and that they've been inspired to reach out to shops to let them know how they want to pick up their order.

"We weren't offering curbside pickup for the first few months of closure, because we were so inundated with orders that it just wasn't a reasonable thing to add to our workload. Now that we are offering that service, I've found that most of our customers have been very pleasant and pretty good about sticking to the protocol," says Cook.

"Unfortunately, I've heard differing accounts from friends who are also working retail, mostly for larger retailers. I've heard a lot of stories about customers being rude and pushy and generally non-compliant."

Even under ordinary circumstances, customers are unaware of much of what goes on at businesses and can act insensitively, and unfortunately it seems this has only been exacerbated by the pandemic.

"I understand that everybody is stressed out right now, but it really doesn't take much to try to be kind and respectful to the people who are trying to provide services to you," says Cook.

Here's her full list of tips:

  1.  If you want to add something to your order, you likely can! Call ahead and ask. Don't request this at the door when you're picking up your order. This is a hassle for employees and can mess with inventory counts. If they say no, accept it. You can place another order.
  2. Just because you're grabbing something at the door and leaving doesn't mean you shouldn't wear a mask. This is a small thing that really makes everybody feel a lot better about the transaction. Please put your mask on.
  3. Try to pick up your orders promptly. Nobody is set up for this kind of shopping. Stores right now have haphazard shelving everywhere and your orders are all over the place. Getting your order in and out as soon as possible helps keep things moving.
  4. Please do not ask to have your order rushed. Your purchase is not more important than anyone else's. Unless the shop you're buying from specifically states that you can pay a fee to have your order rushed, no, you can't. Don't put a shopkeeper in the position to have to say no to you - or to do something that screws with everyone else's orders.
  5. Get familiar with the shop's protocols for picking up your order. Everybody's system is going to be a bit different, based on how their store is managed. This information should be available on their website. If you're not sure, call ahead and ask. We're happy to explain it to you!
  6. In appropriate situations, tip well. If you have a small shop or local place you frequent, consider dropping an envelope with a little cash/some gift cards for basics through the mail slot if that's in your budget. This is a really nice way to show some appreciation for people who are doing their best for you in a stressful time. Starbucks/Tim Horton's, gas cards, Chapter's gift cards are some nice ideas to show your gratitude. Even some bus tokens would be nice (if that applies where you live)
  7. If you place multiple orders, inform the shop. Don't assume your orders will automatically be bundled together. Writing "please put this with my previous order" in the comment box often gets missed and isn't helpful for every shop. Call or email to let them know. This is totally fine and good to do, we appreciate your enthusiasm for shopping with us!
  8. If you make any request and are told "no", do not fight about it. Retail is about bending over backwards to say yes. If somebody tells you no, there is a good reason for it. And they don't have to explain it to you.
  9. Just try to be patient, ok? This is weird for everybody. There’s no need to throw a fit over anything right now.
Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez


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