Grammy’s Boutique and Espresso Bar in Wellesley is hoping to make lockdown look a little brighter by leaving some sunshine on the doorstep.
The cafe and gift emporium has long been a one-stop shop for unique items from flowers to funny baby onesies, but when community members started to become sick with Covid, owner Sherrie Kirby came up with a way to spread the love from a safe social distance.
“We had some folks in town that have Covid and their friends said we just want to brighten their spirits,” Kirby said.
The group worked out a budget and Kirby created a series of gift baskets to send every other day. The baskets are delivered using a contactless system that allows delivery drivers to ensure the baskets are picked up without endangering anyone.
More than just flowers and a get well card, the baskets often feature unique gifts like fancy sauces, coffee, tea or stuffed animals.
“Depending on the audience, we have drink mixes, tortilla chips and dips, bath bombs, soup mixes with crackers, an antipasto and spaghetti dinner basket or chocolates and popcorn,” Kirby said. “There are so many things in our store that we can put into it.”
The staff at Grammy’s makes a special effort to tailor each basket to the people receiving them, making sure there’s something fun for kids if the quarantined house has little ones.
Grammy’s staff is full of helpful suggestions for those who might not know what to put in a basket.
“They can call or email us and we can make recommendations. We do have a website. We’re in the process of updating it and there will be a button on there they can click on,” Kirby said.
The store’s Facebook page and website feature pictures of the gifts available and examples of baskets that can be custom designed for customers.
Although Wellesley is a small town, Kirby is sure Covid has made the rounds. She and some of her staff members had a bad flu early on, before testing was widely available, and she says at least five families in the area have received the specialized baskets while quarantined.
“I’m pretty sure that half of us in town have already had it,” she says. “It’s so unfortunate.”
Kirby and her staff keep the recipients of the baskets private in order to help combat the possible stigma of having the illness.
“We’re really discreet because not everyone wants to be out loud and proud about having Covid.”
The baskets aren’t just going to the sick and quarantined. Lockdown has seen seniors living alone in the community become increasingly isolated. Kirby says she’s had calls from concerned children looking to send a little light and love to their older parents.
“They are by themselves and they’re struggling. The little gift at the door is a breath of fresh air.”
Grammy’s was able to stay open during lockdown because they sell both grocery items and coffee, both which qualify as essential services, but Kirby says foot traffic has been minimal.
While the situation has reduced the number of customers in the store, Grammy’s has been doing a booming business this year in telephone and internet sales.
“Last year we had probably the biggest year we’ve ever had, and that is in part because we have a fair amount of corporate clients that are working at home and they’re sending out baskets to say ‘Hey thanks, I know working at home is not easy,’ to their employees,” Kirby says.
The store is also providing the VIP boxes to those attending the upcoming viewing party for the launch of a new Waterloo region hospice centre in March.
The ribbon cutting ceremony at The Gies Family Centre located in Waterloo was forced to go virtual, like so many other things this year, but 250 invitees to the event are being given special gift bags donated by Grammy’s to help commemorate the moment.
“Waterloo Region doesn’t have enough hospices, so there was a huge push to get one built. To me, the most intimate moments are when a child is born and when someone passes on,” says Kirby. “I’m proud to be a part of that. I think it’s really important. We need a soft place to land on our end days.”
To order a gift basket, Kirby encourages customers to check out the boutique’s Facebook page or head to their website at grammysgourmetgiftbaskets.com. Grammy’s can also be reached by calling 1-833-660-5777.
Written by Elizabeth Bate