NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Hundreds of hopeful shoppers descended on Bahamas Food Services’ compound on Gladstone Road, hoping to score discounted wholesale fruit and produce yesterday.
Marsha Thompson, 59, sat with a ticket number underneath a tent erected on site, as scores of customers queued and endured long lines in hopes of taking advantage of the wholesaler’s flash sale.
A BFS flyer titled “COVID-19 Relief Package” advised customers to pick up select sale items between 8am and 4pm Monday through Friday while supplies last.
A WhatsApp message about the sale of produce also made the rounds on social media.
However, the heavy influx of customers forced the company to suspend operations for the day.
Thompson, a retired Ministry of Tourism consultant of 23 years, told Eyewitness News she had been waiting for around an hour to purchase a vegetable bundle deal and fruits.
Police officers at the entrance of the compound supervised the sale and only permitted in a limited number of vehicles into the facility at once.
Cars lined the street, even after the sale came to a close shortly before noon.
Yellow tape on the ground near the distribution point marked where customers should stand — six feet apart as mandated by the ongoing emergency orders.
When Eyewitness News visited shortly before noon, more than a dozen customers sat in chairs — the last customers to be served after the sale stopped.
Thompson, a mother of five and grandmother, said the experience was indicative on the new lifestyle the Bahamian people must now adjust to prevent the local spread of COVID-19.
“Within the last several days the places I would frequent, the businesses, have been really on point with the quarantine in terms of the social distancing,” she said.
“The reality is right now that we as a people are now living in a time where we now need to concentrate on what God is doing.
She continued: “How we get through this depends on us; how we treat and how we love one another; how we care for those who are disenfranchised,”
Rhonda Williams, a life underwriter for Family Guardian, said the crowd and lines at BFS were worthwhile as it enabled her to get a bulk number of items she would have had to gone to the food store for and potentially waited longer.
Also sat underneath the tent with her ticket, number 116, she said she had been waiting around 20 minutes.
“The things that I am out here for today are the things that I would normally purchase at the stores, so it not a problem,” she said.
“You’re getting it wholesale to avoid all of that at the food store, and in the quantity you can get it in now it is feasible for you to offer someone else. And my number is coming up soon.”
Asked if she has experienced a difficulty as a result of the emergency order, said: “It’s been smooth.”
All of the shoppers canvassed yesterday said they learned of the flash sale via a WhatsApp message.
Paulette Lozaque, an investment advisor for Royal Fidelity, said while hopeful shoppers were maintaining a reasonable distance from another, at one point there was a rush after store personnel asked the crowd who wished to purchase fruits and vegetables.
“Everybody rushed for it and we were like ‘oh, give us some space’, but they gave us numbers,” she said.
As it relates to the 24-hour mandatory curfew, which prohibits residents leaving their homes for non-essential travel until next Tuesday, Lozaque said she agrees with the measure to ensure the safety of the public.
“It stops the spread of the disease and being home allows me to get stuff done, and spend time with my family.
“I can work remotely, but even working from home, you’re still working.
“My first degree is science, so I understand. And even though we have the lockdown, our company is able to survive.”
Another woman, who had originally been turned away minutes before noon, was permitted to purchase a fruit bundle.
While she did not wish to be identified she said she felt the sale was a good idea and went relatively smoothly.
“When we came in there was a gentleman standing at the entrance, giving you a number, and then they call your number to come inside, so we don’t overcrowd,” she said.
“We’ve been keeping our distance and doing it the way it’s supposed to be done.
“I’m getting the fruits and vegetables, which is what I most need at this time.”
She said she plans to return today if BFS continues the sale.