28 Apr 2020

Pizza peel pickup: Business owners ring changes to meet heavy demand

3:23 pm on 28 April 2020

Small businesses around the country are having to adapt in order to trade under the alert level 3 restrictions - but some are thrilled with the level of support they are already experiencing.

Jenna Todd from Time Out Books in Auckland

Jenna Todd from Time Out Books in Auckland passes customers their books on a pizza peel. Photo: RNZ / Matthew Theunissen

About 400,000 New Zealanders are thought to have gone back to work today after the five-week lockdown came to an end overnight.

However, restrictions at level 3 remain stringent and some have had to improvise in order to get business ticking over.

Time Out Books manager Jenna Todd was passing pre-ordered books to customers on a pizza peel this morning.

"We really try to get people to pay before they come in, so they can buy through our website or over the phone. We've also just discovered you can do payWave through glass so we've been doing that as well.

"And I have a pizza peel and I just put the book on there and hand it out onto a table next to some hand sanitiser for as distant-as-possible service."

She said they had orders "coming out of our ears", with easy-to-read fiction the most popular books at the moment.

But it's been very tough.

"We did 10 percent of what we would usually do in April," she said. "We know that everyone is struggling but I think next month will be better so, yeah, we're really looking forward to level 2."

Ashleigh Duncan from Ace Coffee Shop on Dominion Rd has been flat-out making coffees all day, separated from her customers by a glass screen.

She was quite overwhelmed by the level of support her small business had received from locals.

"There have been so many people coming through it's amazing, I was unprepared for how much support there is," she said.

"It's really great to be back and just to see other people in real life and their smiling faces."

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Customers can get a proper coffee from Ace Coffee Shop on Dominion Rd, albeit behind a glass screen. Photo: RNZ / Mathhew Theunissen

Lisa East said she nearly cried when she saw that the cafe was open and she could finally get a proper coffee.

"I'm very happy about it," she said. "It's also really nice to be able to get out and support these guys. I'm a small business owner so I get it - it's very tough at the moment and very stressful."

Many eateries were gearing up for a big wave of food orders this evening.

Pawan Pandey from Mt Eden Rd restaurant Monsieur Madame was thrilled when a couple of online orders came through as early as 10am.

"It was a very bad situation but we hope things will get better," he said.

Muji Triqi from Mt Eden Village Kebabs across the road has been flat-out preparing for what he hopes will be a busy night.

"I'm worried about my business, definitely, but ... when we came to clean yesterday lots of local people came to say 'hi' and tell us they would get food from us. So hopefully we can do it."

It's going to be a real learning curve to become an online-only business for the first time, he said.

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