As a resident of the Town of Portsmouth, I have seen many businesses come and go, and in recent times, we have seen some major enterprise and even the grand institution – Ross University School of Medicine, pack up and leave. To say these have not been painful, heart wrenching, and even frustrating would be remiss of me. To list the businesses and not mention the actual names of the many people – not just from Portsmouth, but who hailed from the North, South, East and West of Dominica who have lost jobs, and many who have been left to find other work options and others just totally unemployed would be incomplete. In any case, the objective here is not to name all the departed enterprise, but to honor in my view a fighting soldier.
Just a few days ago, we were notified of the confirmation of yet another enterprise packing up from the town to leave within the next two months, leaving four people jobless. One is left to wonder whether this latter departure set to occur, is COVID-19 influenced? Whatever the reasons, the constant breakdown on an economic flow within our town is definitely unsettling and deeply concerning.
No doubt, COVID-19 has done its own amount of damage too. We saw Whitchurch pack up silently and left. We all know post Hurricane Maria, and the loss of Ross, that my featured enterprise – this supermarket, has been dealt a major blow. We saw them struggling to stay afloat, but alas, the downward spiral was definitely evident and almost unavoidable. Maybe, COVID-19 was the final straw that broke the back of that camel. So, Picard, the once bubbly area continues to “close down” with no real comfort at this time.
Amidst this malaise, I cannot help but to observe and admire the fighting soldier (s) trying to make it happen for not just themselves, but their staff. I am referring to the proprietors of LA Enterprises down at Picard. Roy and Judy Larocque have been proactive from very early amidst this COVID-19 crisis. They ensured they marked out where customers should stand, set up a barrier to protect their staff who serve as cashiers, ensured that customers’ hands are sanitized upon entry of the enterprise, and that while shopping people maintain social distancing. To that effect, they also sought to manage the number of people who were in the store at any given time. As a matter of fact, the present shopping experience there is now embracing these protocols as a new-normal.
Further, and to me what is really the winner is the fact that for a relatively young business, which also suffered the blows of Hurricane Maria and the departure of Ross University School of Medicine whose clients were regular customers of the supermarket, LA continues to fight on. While others may see that as a perfect chance to downscale or to lay off staff, the proprietors decided to hold on to their staff for as long as they possibly could by utilizing a sort of shift system that, though less days than normal, staff were able to keep a job. Sadly, like many other private sector organisations, LA Enterprise was forced to lose a few employees after much fight to avoid employing that route which to them is a last resort. Still, they trod on in serving the community.
This I am certain is a difficult time for the enterprise and its owners. It must be painful to stay afloat with less movement of the populace, compounded by the state of emergency and curfew made inevitable due to the monster COVID-19. Still they press on amidst this hardship. How do they do it? I am not certain. #Faith? #Hope? #Love? #Perseverance? Whatever it is, I think LA opened its doors not to fail, but to succeed, – a thought which must be at the forefront of their minds and hearts.
Something though that I think sets LA Enterprise and their proprietors apart within our locality is customer service. Ever since their existence, they have been able to transform the shopping experience of patrons by trying to equip employees with the right strategies to deal with customers, though I am certain this in itself is a climb. The ability to make customers feel welcomed, while assisting them in whatever way possible is also worth highlighting. Managers are not too great to serve the customers who walk through the door – this trait and practice sets them apart.
Then, the social interaction. LA Enterprise takes the time to send out messages via various social media platforms, creates various sales strategies that give customers additional reasons to visit them, and ensures that customers are always notified of any changes like closures and opening hours. The evolution and creativity persists.
Ever since they came on the scene, LA, despite its pains exemplify philanthropy. They continue to give back to community through sponsorships to include the excellent boosting of Bombers Football Team’s appearance and support base. I strongly believe that besides the fact that Possie people enjoy a good game of football (soccer), some people support the team because they love what LA does for the community. So, this enterprise, this fighting soldier, its proprietors, in my view deserve to be honored, deserve to be highlighted, supported and awarded somehow with some form of recognition.
I was not paid, nor asked to do this. This is just a lay-“woman’s” view being expressed here. So, since I do not have the award, I will advocate for our town folks to rally around this enterprise by continuing to support them as an essential service and shopping center. I will also ask the powers that be to make the necessary efforts to bring back some energy into the locality as soon as that is feasible as we all anticipate a #Post-COVID-19 Era. Additionally, hope they are seeing LA as an asset for the people and seek to cushion the enterprise as much if they have not yet begun to do so.
Meanwhile, LA continues to improve and I hope will grow from strength to strength. Of-course, there is always room for improvement in all things, so I will quietly say – “they need to cater for the gluten-intolerant folks like me, but I have utmost respect for Roy and Judy Larocque – these soldiers. 🙂
With these simple observations, harboring no reservations – my award goes to LA Enterprise‘, the staff, patrons and most importantly, proprietors.
May God bless your business!