Beth Calder is preparing for another flood except this one consists of parcels and customers.
The co-owner and general manager of Point-to-Point parcel service in Point Roberts is thrilled to learn starting Nov. 30 a negative PCR test is no longer required for fully-vaccinated Canadians to return through the border on trips 72 hours or less. Now she is bracing herself for what’s on the horizon.
The ease of restrictions happens to coincide with Black Friday (Nov. 26) and Cyber Monday (Nov. 29) which is always the busiest time of year for the 21-year-old operation, as well as other parcel businesses in the tiny pene-exclave of about 800 residents.
Typically, Calder would have at least 10 people working for her during the hectic stretch. She currently has four staff members and unsure where she is going to find the additional help in the next couple of weeks.
“We were pushed to the brink of what I would call complete devastation where we lost 70 percent of our staff. I can’t just magically create new staff,” said Calder. “I have been in constant communication with all the realtors because our properties have been selling like crazy here. ‘If there is anyone that’s moving into town and looking for work let me know.’
“They could have bought a house six months ago and I couldn’t have hired them because we just didn’t have the need then. It’s little terrifying now that we know we are going into this. It’s not going to get me far.”
Calder had already seen her business pick-up when the U.S. opened its border to non-essential travel earlier this month. It resulted in some of her regular customers paying $200 for a PCR test, then making sure they got their “money’s worth” of online orders to make the trip south worthwhile. The operation has also made it through the last 20 months thanks to an increase in commercial activity as Point-to-Point was one of the only outlets that stayed open five days a week.
Now, that’s going to seem like the calm before the storm.
“Our phones and emails are going crazy with people telling us (the testing) is going to be removed,” added Calder. “Before (COVID), non-peak season we could easily be getting 300 packages a day from all the couriers. Peak season it’s 700 to 1000 pieces day. It gets crazy here at Christmas and you also have people that have stuff sitting in their (online) shopping cart and have been waiting to come down here.
“Now I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to cover that. (Laughing) I’m wishing for a Christmas miracle!”