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Coronavirus: Winnipeg garden centre owner says customers stressed as economy reopens

As Manitoba enters its third week of reopening the economy, one local garden centre owner says her customers are not taking the new social distancing measures well.

The staff at Shelmerdine’s on Roblin Boulevard have been experiencing extreme negativity and rudeness from customers recently.

“It kind of caught us off guard,” said co-owner Nicole Bent. “Plants are proven to reduce stress and anxiety, so we were expecting the exact opposite reaction.”

Bent says the incidents have been happening consistently since the business re-opened to customers on April 18. She chalks it up to the overall stress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I don’t think people are inherently mean,” she said. “We’ve been pushed to our limits as human beings and this pent up stress is coming out. Unfortunately, it’s at our cashiers who are high school students working their first jobs — jobs that other people won’t do.”

One complaint said that Bent had been smiling “too wide” while ringing up a customer. She says she doesn’t hold any ill will towards her customers and hopes that gardening will help reduce their stress.

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Bent believes this trend is happening across all retail because of the new social distancing measures. “As people come out of hiding, they realize it’s a different world now,” she said, “and not everyone is good at dealing with change.”

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