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.


About 8 hours ago
San Francisco

New statewide stay-at-home order sounding likely as first week of December brings escalating COVID hospitalizations

Just ten days after announcing a 10 p.m.-to-5 a.m. curfew for all "Purple" tier counties in California, Governor Gavin Newsom today gave a stark warning that stricter orders akin to what we saw in March may be coming within days amid quickly escalating coronavirus case counts and hospitalizations. Read More

About 9 hours ago
San Francisco Financial District

American Institute of Architects takes over ground-floor space in landmark Hallidie Building

The landmark Hallidie Building (130 Sutter St.) is getting a new ground-floor tenant next year, and it's the professional organization for architects that has long occupied some offices on an upper floor of the building. Read More

About 10 hours ago
San Francisco Upper Haight

Haight smoke shop owner arrested in Salt Lake City after allegedly refusing to wear a face mask to board an airplane

A man who made international headlines after allegedly attempting to board a Delta flight out of Salt Lake City while refusing to put on a face mask turns out to be the owner of Upper Haight smoke shop Pipe Dreams (1376 Haight St.), which advertises itself as the oldest smoke shop in San Francisco. Read More

Nov 25, 2020
San Francisco Castro Duboce Triangle

Castro gets second Shared Spaces street closure, Noe Street goes car-free this Sunday

SFMTA approved the Castro Merchants' request to close Noe Street between 16th and Market Streets and Beaver Street. Castro residents will be familiar with the footprint as it's the same one used for Castro Farmers' Market on Wednesdays. Read More