Current as of: Apr 27, 2020, 4:00PM
You would not think of Showcase as a retailer of essential health supplies, and until a few months ago, neither did we. But when we witnessed the unprecedented emerging health crisis, and the devastating impact it was having across the 117 communities we serve, we knew we had to help. Many of the challenges of getting supplies to communities involve manufacturing connections, supply chain hurdles, regulatory red tape, and logistical bottlenecks that have become our area of expertise over the last 25 years. To sit idle when the community is in need, all while we have a way to help, would be unconscionable.
Many of our staff have loved ones on the front lines, serving as first responders, health care workers, and serving essential roles in this crisis. Personally, I have heard from my own family around the world of the challenges and fears on the front lines. My uncle and aunt are physicians administering COVID-19 tests in an underserved community. My cousin is an OBGYN delivering babies daily in a hospital designated only for COVID-19 patients, and she herself is 5 months pregnant; her husband is a high-risk pediatrician seeing sensitive cases every day. Our extended family includes an emergency room doctor, two oncologists, and a radiologist, and the stories we have heard from family and friends have been heart-wrenching.
Therefore, we committed the entire resources of our international organization and our hundreds of staff to preserve and improve the health and safety of our first responders, seniors, and our communities as a whole.
Below is information about what we are doing to help. As new facts emerge, our policies and prices will evolve, but our commitment to the health of Canadians will be unshakable. We are not perfect but we are doing our best. Thank you for your understanding.
Take care and more soon,
- We know that prices may seem high. Some pharmacies and grocery stores carried essential supplies at lower prices before this crisis, but they mostly have no inventory left which is why shelves are empty and webpages show "out of stock" with obsolete low prices. Retailers can no longer buy at these "regular" costs, due to the worldwide cost increases and shortages (see below).
- We do not price gouge. Our prices are based on the cost we currently pay on the global market, and that formula has not changed before or since this health crisis began. These prices do not even cover our costs of inventory, mall rent, and wages, and so we lose money every day that we are open.
- Thankfully, costs and prices are dropping - including lower prices for health care, first responders, government, and seniors. We are pleased that hand sanitizer is now available from $2.99, and face masks from 99 cents. Every time we find a lower-priced factory or a more affordable freight route, we pass the savings on with lower prices. These prices will also drop further as we switch from expensive air freight to more affordable ocean freight, although of course it takes longer for these goods to arrive.
- We are in stock on almost all PPE items. For immediate pickup for an essential service, please visit our stores. Otherwise, please purchase online, and allow 3-5 days to process and ship.
- The guidance regarding face masks changes often, and we have tried to adjust our policies to match the best government guidance available. The latest guidance is that the health care sector faces severe shortages of medical-grade face masks, while the general public and other essential service workers are recommended to wear non-medical masks or other face coverings.
- Our latest policy matches this guidance. N95 and KN95 face masks are restricted to health care workers only. Disposable face masks are suitable for everyday use and are available to the public, with lower prices for health care workers, first responders, government, and seniors. Our policy will continue to evolve as we learn more from government and other stakeholders.
Manufacturers are charging massive cost increases and will not negotiate and have thousands of other companies around the world ready to buy their stock at any price. If Canadian companies don't bid for this inventory, Canada will not get its fair share of these essential supplies.
- Bloomberg: "In America, states are bidding against one another for masks priced as much as 10 times the usual cost of 60¢ to 80¢ apiece."
- BBC: “Where has all the hand sanitizer gone?”
Our vendors are paying 87% more for isopropyl alcohol for hand sanitizer, leading to supply shortages and worldwide bidding wars.
We are paying up to 307% more for bottled hand sanitizer vs. a typical retail price, even though we are ordering truckloads.
We are paying up to 1,705% more in freight as components and inventory are being shipped by air instead of by water, and air rates have skyrocketed due to flight restrictions and higher demand.
- Wired Magazine: "shipping costs have nearly doubled"
The US dollar is 15% more expensive since Jan 1 and this directly affects costs because most purchases are made in $US.
- CBC: "The Canadian dollar is already at a four-year low and its value could drop below 70 cents compared to the U.S. dollar."
Mask costs have risen 10x due to bidding wars and global demand.
- Bloomberg: "Face masks for front-line staff, normally about 58 cents each, have been quoted by sellers at $7.50, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office."
Export bans by 68 countries are making supply difficult or impossible, which drives costs up:
- Registered Federal Business Procurement Number 877487801PG0001 to supply government agencies directly
- Supplying Hospitals, First Responders, and seniors with essential supplies, including with special discounts, higher quantity limits, and designated hours in stores
- Donating supplies directly to hospitals, for example hundreds of units to Windsor Hospital
- Supplying Canada's largest national home health care organization, as well as other seniors’ home and assisted living facilities with essential supplies directly
- Health Canada COVID-19 Site Licence #COV0045. This follows the “expedited licensing approach implemented by Health Canada to support companies that intend to use their facilities to manufacture, package, label and/or import alcohol-based hand sanitizers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
- Health Canada Medical Device Establishment License #11606.
Qualified as an essential service, as confirmed by the Ontario Premier's Office and Ministry of Health (Ontario), Peel Regional Police, York Regional Police, Durham Regional Police, City of Mississauga, City of Kingston, and others as per the following designated service types:
- Service Type 1. Businesses that supply other essential businesses or essential services within Ontario, or that supply businesses or services that have been declared essential in a jurisdiction outside of Ontario
- Service Type 2. Businesses that primarily sell … consumer products necessary to maintain households and businesses
- Service Type 41. … retailers of … medical supplies.
- “Businesses that provide products and/or services that support the health sector”
- “Businesses engaged in the retail [of] household consumer products necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation and essential operations of residences and businesses”
- “safety supply stores (… Personal Protective Equipment)”
- "Businesses that provide products and/or services that support health services"
- Retailers that provide "Medical supplies and services”
- Service Type #2: “A business that provides … household consumer goods necessary for the safety, sanitation or operation of residences and businesses”
- Service Type #3: “A business that provides personal protective equipment”
- Nova Scotia:
- "Shopping malls remain open but everyone must adhere to the five-person rule."
- Working with Government of Canada under Federal Business Procurement Number 877487801PG0001 to supply face masks, sanitizers and gloves directly to the government.
- Working with National Research Council (NRC) to improve the supply of essential goods in Canada.
- Working with Provincial Governments including Ontario Together's initiative (submission #2401734) directly so we are connected directly with organizations that require essential goods.
- Mandatory social distancing and regular in-store sanitation including repeated hand sanitizing, wiping down surfaces, avoiding social product demonstrations, and social distancing measures to separate customers in checkout lineups which are outfitted with plexiglass barriers where possible.
- Reduced operating hours in stores by roughly 30%, in coordination with mall landlords and where prudent, to minimize social contact between staff and customers, and to minimize multi-staff shifts to reduce social contact.
- Mandated any staff member who shows any COVID-19 symptoms, or who has traveled outside Canada in the last 14 days, to immediately go home, seek medical treatment if necessary, and quarantine themselves for a minimum of 14 days, and closing any store where staff are uncomfortable or unable to work.
- $500,000 in financial assistance made available to staff, including vacation pay and sick pay benefits, higher pay and pay protection for front-line staff.
- Closed our Head Office as of Mar 19 and arranged IT services to allow a work-from-home environment to serve customers and stores without social contact.
- Showcase is a small company competing against larger countries and companies to try to secure essential supplies on the world market.
- We call on Canada's big retailers -- who have more buying power and resources than us -- to fight for Canada’s fair share of the world’s essential supplies. Our dream is that every retailer in Canada has shelves full of these essential supplies at lower and lower prices, so that everyone gets what they need and what they deserve.
- Essential supplies being widely available at low prices would make Canada healthier and us happier as it will serve a much greater public service than anything we can do in our small store.
For inquires related to government, media, bulk buys, and our coronavirus commitment, please contact us here.