Lee’s Custom Floors remains open on a limited basis during COVID-19. (Patrick Davies - 100 Mile Free Press)

Flooring store reopened after closing for 10 days

‘They need something to do while they’re stuck at home’

Lee’s Custom Floors remains cautious as the restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are relaxed.

Janet McKenzie is the manager of Lee’s Custom Floors and said she’s grown up in the industry as her own mother ran the store up until just over a year and a half ago when she passed away. McKenzie stepped up to fill her mother’s shoes and has been running the business herself ever since.

Lee’s Custom Floors has a large selection of custom flooring, McKenzie said, including tile, hardwood, laminate and anything else you can find in the city. They also do the installation for said floors as well with one of their main features being that they are supportive of do it yourself installation. If people purchase the flooring from them, they’ll loan them the tools they need to install it, all free of charge, and provide them with advice and tips on how to do it.

Another thing they offer is their signature power stretcher, created by Lee Peters, to stretch carpets, McKenzie said. The benefit of stretching a carpet well, she said, is that it ensures its quality holds up longer and extends the life of the carpet.

Initially when COVID-19 hit they closed down for 10 days in March because they weren’t sure how they could proceed with business. However, they were soon receiving steady phone calls and notes on the door from contractors and customers and began to brainstorm a way to safely reopen.

Since then they’ve decided to stay closed to walk-in traffic but instead require customers to either knock on the door or call to set up an appointment to shop in the store itself with only one person or couple being allowed in at a time. If they come to pick up supplies, she said they bring them through the warehouse if a customer is in the store.

“Business-wise, yes, our sales are down but at least we’re still able to do some business which the community is fairly grateful for because they need something to do while they’re stuck at home (like installing flooring),” McKenzie said.

The biggest challenge has been them getting used to the whole way they do business being adapted to the new reality of the world with no time to test it, McKenzie said. Keeping themselves and their customers safe, while still providing customer service, was their main goal throughout the pandemic so far.

Even as restrictions begin to lift, however, she thinks they personally will be keeping their own restrictions in place for the immediate future. Sales may be down but they’re currently employed in a safe manner and they do not want to contribute to the problem facing society so instead, they aim to be as safe as possible.

The pandemic has been far tougher on other businesses, in her opinion, as she knows several friends who had to remain shut down throughout the last few weeks. One of McKenzie’s friends owns a yoga studio and still has to pay rent and has been unable to qualify for any of the wage subsidies or loans and has been having to pay rent out of her own pocket.

“I think there’s a good chunk of people who have been very hard hit,” McKenzie said.

On the flip side for food providers like grocery stores, she feels business must be booming and that some small businesses may be benefitting from the demand for food.

Overall, she feels that they’re doing as well as can be expected and feels pretty proud of their community for how they’ve been supporting and caring for one another during these times of trouble.


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