By Justin Seward
When the COVID-19 pandemic was first announced, Deerview Meats did not waste anytime to put measures in place for the safety of its staff and others.
“We had to really look at how we were doing business,” said Chris Deering, Deerview Meats co-owner with husband Perry.
“We actually ended up very quickly after the pandemic was announced, we closed our store to walk-in traffic. We’ve been doing strictly phone in orders and we just bring them out to the vehicle or we’re offering free delivery to Medicine Hat. So that’s a whole new way of doing business for us because we don’t have that walk-in traffic that’s coming in everyday.”
The meat-selling and processing company near Irvine was doing that service for over a month before the COVID-19 outbreak happened at the JBS plant in Brooks and Cargill in High River.
“Then all chaos broke out,” said Deering.
“We actually three weeks ago (from May 13) that we had to stop taking orders because we were literally fielding hundreds of calls a day for people looking for freezer packs and sides and quarters of beef. There was a little bit of panic going around.”
Freezer packs are being delivered to the customer.
A waiting list was created as a result.
“It’s not like we said ‘No.’ We just said ‘You need to give us some time, so we can see where our inventory levels (are),’ so were just working through that waiting list as we can,” said Deering.
“We’ve done pretty (well) and for the most part customers have been awesome. They’re being really patient and willing to wait for the product, so that’s been great.”
There is also the meat processing facility for slaughtering component to the business and Deering said “cattle bookings have gone through the roof.”
“We typically book slaughter dates approximately two to three weeks in advance and right now we’re looking at the end of September,” she said.
While the company expected the high volume of cattle coming in to a small degree, they did not expect the large volume of calls they have been receiving.
“It’s been a lot and the hardest part for us is trying our best to fit everybody in,” she said.
“We keep saying ‘No.’ But we also got to be very conscious of the health of our current staff. We can’t overstress them and work them so hard that they get ill because if one of us get sick here- we’re only a small meat shop-we’re all sick and we’ll be shut down.”
Staffing levels are the same, however, the company has had employees with flu-like symptoms be sent home to self-isolate for 10 to 14 days.
“They’re all healthy. Everybody is healthy,” said Deering.
“We’re just being extra careful, extra cautious because we want to make sure that all of our staff stay healthy.”
Deering says within the next couple of weeks, the store could slowly integrate to opening again under certain hours and strict guidelines.