Rainbow Grocery offers reservations for safer holiday-season shopping

Photo: dee.rock/Facebook
By Jay Barmann - Published on November 13, 2020.

Rainbow Grocery (1745 Folsom Street) is offering extra-socially-distanced shopping hours by reservation only, for everyone who's nervous about trying to do Thanksgiving grocery shopping amid the usual crush of humanity.

Stores across the Bay Area are going to have to clamp down on capacity limits as the dreaded Thanksgiving week approaches, which usually includes some of the busiest days of the year for grocery stores. Ever tried to go to Whole Foods or Bi-Rite on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving? It's not recommended in normal times, let alone in a pandemic.

The Mission's own vegetarian- and holistic-healing-friendly grocery co-op, Rainbow Grocery, is trying to make some special concessions for vulnerable shoppers and those who want to ensure a relaxed shopping experience. Similar to early hours for seniors that some grocers have been offering since the pandemic began, Rainbow is offering late-evening shopping windows by reservation between November 21 and November 24 — though the Chronicle reported on it Friday and the time slots are filling up fast.

There's one reservation-only half-hour being offered this Saturday, November 14, from 9:15 p.m. to 9:45 p.m., and then more half-hour slots on the 21st, 23rd, and 24th. Capacity will be limited to about half of what the usual COVID capacity is, so only 35 shoppers during those windows. Reserve here.


We’re doing it again! The first event was such a great success, we’ve opened up the rest of the nights we’d planned to...

Posted by Rainbow Grocery on Wednesday, November 11, 2020

As the store says on its website, the 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. hour on Tuesdays and Thursdays remains reserved for seniors and those with underlying health conditions.

The reservation idea is "fairly uncommon" among grocers, according to retail consultant Neil Saunders, but it allows the store to cater to more cautious shoppers. As he tells the Chronicle, "It hasn’t been adopted in a widespread way, and retailers who have done it tend to be outside the grocery space, like homeware or fashion where customers might need a bit more assistance from staff."

Only a few local grocery retailers, including The Epicurean Trader, have been using a reservation system that was offered by OpenTable earlier this year.


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