Exeter, Ont. grocery store changes 'one-person' policy
EXETER, ONT. -- UPDATE: This story represents an update to an earlier story about the one-person-per-household policy at Hansen’s Your Independent Grocer in Exeter, Ont. The update is provided to include additional information received by CTV News, including accounts from several individuals who claim they witnessed the interaction involving a shopper and Hansen’s representatives that differs from what CTV News was told.
As the province inches its way through the pandemic, restrictions are being placed on how businesses can operate. That includes people having to wear masks in some stores as well as limiting the number of people allowed inside.
The single-person-occupancy store policy at Hansen’s Your Independent Grocer in Exeter allowed only one person per household into the store at any given time.
But that can pose a challenge for single mothers who have their children with them.
Angela St. Antoine, a single mother of a five-month-old baby, tells CTV News she was turned away by an employee over the weekend.
"I got my mom to drive me and we went to proceed into the lineup. A Hansen’s Independent assistant came towards us and told my mom it was only one person per household. We mentioned that we were in separate households and the guy said, ‘…that’s fine, it’s the baby. It’s got to stay in the truck,'" said St. Antoine.
But store manager, Mike Hansen, tells CTV News there’s “absolutely no way” he or any other store employee would have suggested a shopper leave their baby in the car to do their shopping.
He says both he and an employee offered St. Antoine choices, including doing the shopping for her or shopping online or through the PC app.
But St. Antoine argues that she has problems accessing Wifi where she lives, and doesn’t like the idea of pre-ordering.
"I don’t really understand how to online shop and I don’t really know what I want. When I am grocery shopping I like to take my time and get what I want," she said.
After the story went public, at least three people claiming to have witnessed the incident first-hand said they didn’t recall anyone from the store telling the shopper to leave their child in a car.
They also said St. Antoine was offered the option to stay in the car while a store employee did their shopping for the family.
However, St. Antoine stands by her original version of events and says that was not the case.
One-person policy sparks discussion
The conversation around the store’s policy originally sparked an outcry on social media, where Facebook posts expressed displeasure over the one-person-at-a-time rule.
Denise Ann Marie posted in a Facebook thread, "We were told that only one person could enter and the child couldn’t...It’s not like I’m leaving a not even two-year-old in my car or at the house alone."
Hansen says the purpose of the single person policy is, “to ensure employee safety as well as the safety of our community.”
In a social media post on Wednesday, the store says children will be now allowed in if none of the other options offered are workable.
Canadian supermarket chain, Loblaw, which owns Your Independent Grocers, responded to inquiries from CTV News after the original story aired, in an email statement:
It reads, "This is not a corporate policy. While we encourage our customers to limit shopping to one person per family when possible, we understand that this is unrealistic for some customers and exceptions need to be made. We have spoken with the store owner of Hansen’s Your Independent Grocer and can assure our customers that this will not happen again."
St. Antoine’s allegations prompted a storm of responses from readers from the Exeter community, the vast majority supporting the store’s practices and Hansen himself.
Hansen says since the story became public it initially deflated his “work family,” but he added that he has since received an outpouring of community support.
This story represents an update to an earlier story about the one-person-per-household policy at Hansen’s Your Independent Grocer in Exeter, Ont. The update is provided to include additional information received by CTV News, including accounts from several individuals who claim they witnessed the interaction involving a shopper and Hansen’s representatives that differs from what CTV News was told.