Tales from the Dollarama: Covid Continues

Tales from the Dollarama: Covid Continues

A Story by Redgrim

Welcome to a window into the world of Dollarama during the Coronavirus pandemic.


Some wonder what it would be like to see through someone else's eyes, live a day in their life. Be careful what you wish for, you might end up on the frontlines of...




Once my co-worker finishes his order, he calls upon the next customer. The woman approaches and places six tubs of Lysol wipes, among a mountain of other items. He begins to scan her items through. By the fourth tub of Lysol wipes, the register beeps and displays an error message.


Co-worker - "Oh, sorry miss, but we have a limit of three Lysol wipes per customer."


Woman - "Oh... okay."


The order continues without a hitch. My co-worker gets everything bagged up and places it on the counter, ready for her to take it.


Co-worker - "Alright, so your total is 109$."


My co-worker presents the readied debit machine with a splayed hand. The woman has her card in her hand. She looks pensive, caught in thought as she taps her card against her wrist. She gazes at my co-worker, looking through the protective layer of plastic wrap that divided the them.


Woman - "... I don't feel safe."


The woman proceeds to walk away, leaving all her items behind. As my manager cancels the order, my co-worker is left wondering. All that was left for her to do was pay for her order. She had already been in the store for quite a while, what was it about this situation that made her feel unsafe? Did it have something to do with the Lysol wipes? Did the debit machine seem dirty?


I have a theory though. When the woman looked up, she wasn't looking at my co-worker, she was looking out the window behind him. There, her archrival stood on the other end of a street until a bus passed by and they disappeared. Knowing that the hunt was on, the woman had to abandon her groceries and pursue the inciting incident. No doubt in my mind, we were merely the opening scene for her action movie.


If there is one lesson to be learnt from working in retail it is that inconvenience is a fate worse than death. And you will know why...




The dreaded door duty was yet again mine to command. Equipped with my Lysol spray and a fresh rag, I began my thorough scrubbing of the shopping carts. During this task, a lady wearing a face shield opened the door.


Me - "Hello, as part of our new social distancing policy you have to take a cart."


Shield lady stops in her tracks, raising her gloved hands as though I was pointing a gun at her.


Shield lady - "I will not take cart."


Me - "You have to. It keeps you distance from-"


Shield lady - "I will not take cart."


Just like that, she turned on her heel and walked right back out the store and back to her car. I looked over to my co-worker at cash.


Me - "Well, at least she didn't argue about it."


The life of a shoplifter is one of hardship. These poor souls have such trouble outsmarting security teams that they have to resort to stealing from stores without such luxuries. It is tragic really...




This story begins on the bus of all places. When we stopped at the mall, I noticed a sketchy looking guy getting off and grabbing his bike. I thought to myself, 'that looks a guy who would steal stuff from Dollarama.' I had no proof of anything, so perhaps I was a bit too judgemental.


I was a bit early, so I meandered around the mall for a dozen minutes or so. When I eventually got to work, my manager approached me.


Manager - "All right, I got a new method for catching shoplifters."


She proceeded to set the scene for me. A man entered the store and began to shove products into his bag. He did this rather nonchalantly, so, big surprise, my manager caught wind of what was going on and went to confront him directly. The man was not without his sense of urgency and decided to cut his losses. A brief chase ensued, but the man had the advantage of being closer to the door.


Once freed from the walls of Dollarama, the man hopped on his bike and peddled as hard as he could. My breathless manager threw the door aside and yelled with all that she could muster.


Manager - "Hey! I know who you are, I know where you live! I'm calling the police!"


After releasing her secret weapon, she returned inside, steaming that she didn't catch the guy. Or so she thought. Just before she could return to her duties, the front door opened once more. It was bike guy, presenting his bag in submission.


Bike guy - "Look I'm really poor..."


Manager - "Cool story."


My manager snatches the bag out of his hand and shoos him away.


Me - "Did you actually know him?"


Manager - "Never seen him in my life. He doesn't know that."


Me - "And he had a bike? How long ago did this happen?"


Manager - "Just before you got here."


The gut is a strange place to trust, but I suppose it's not often wrong.


The tale that is about told takes place during the strangest of times, the week before lockdown. It was a time when stores were still open, but Covid-19 was a looming threat. Settle in for more...




Since this was the before times, every customer had carts overflowing with items that they needed to survive in isolation, and other things that were maybe less important. As such, the lines were huge! It couldn't be handled by a single cashier. In which case, I sent out a call for backup.


A lady approached my cash to begin her transaction. At the same time, the manager on duty heeded my call and took the station directly next to me. The lady didn't like that, not one bit. She spurted a command.


Lady - "Move over to the next cash."


Manager on duty looked confused, no one had complained about our cashes being too close before.


Me - "Oh, the whole social distancing thing, we have to be six feet apart."


Manager - "I can't though, I'm assigned to this cash."


Lady - "Well, you better tell your manager that your social distancing practices are terrible. Those lines aren't even six feet!"


The lady pointed to the green painter's tape on the floor.


Me - "Technically, she's the manager."


I point to the manager on duty.


Lady - "Well, you're an awful manager!"


The lady's proclamations may have been direct to the manager on duty, but her words were like fresh chum being dumped into the water. The woman next in line was out for blood and she was going to get it.


Woman - "That's it, I've had enough of you people and the paranoia! If you're so scared of catching the virus you should just stay at home!"


Lady - "My husband's sick! It's not my fault she's so stupid that she doesn't know how to measure six feet!"


Woman - "Oh yeah, all that stuff your buying is definitely essential!"


To be fair, the lady did have a lot of miscellaneous house hold items. At no point did we join the argument, the two just continued bickering while they were having their items checked out. In the midst of it, I had to ask the lady if she wanted plastic bags and she pleasantly answered yes, then immediately returned to arguing with the woman.


It was a perplexing situation. Normally when a customer is upset with us, we bare the brunt of their abuse, never has it been redirected to another customer, albeit, the lady continued her mudsling at manager on duty while the woman was complimenting her whenever possible. It ended with more of a whimper than a bang since once one of them paid, they promptly left. The other customers were just watching out of necessity and interest, not really pitching in or feeling the need to back one or the other.


As for me, I merely turned to manager on duty.


Me - "Man, she was out for blood."


Do you ever stop and wonder, why? For nothing in particular, just why? There are many days when this plagues the mind of anyone involved with...




A scent was in the air. A sort of putrid, chest rattling sensation. It was only then that I knew, the game was afoot. I did a quick scan of the store, walking from one end to the other and peering into each aisle. Only then, did I spot my target. A shabby man making shoving motions into the backpack that was decidedly not on his back, but in his cart instead.


Quickly, I approach shabby man, standing directly next to him as he was zipping up his backpack. He was facing away from me, so he didn't notice I was there until I spoke up.


Me - "Sir, are you shoving stuff into your backpack?"


Shabby man laughs in good humour and looks to me as though I was joking.


Shabby man - "Oh no no no."


With that, he takes his cart and leaves the aisle, however, I was following not too far behind. When he turns into the next aisle, he lurches over his cart again and begins to pull out a few items from his backpack and place them on the shelf, I can only guess he didn't think I was right there watching him.


Me - "Sir, are you taking things out of your backpack?"


I get the same reaction out of him. This time though, he heads directly towards the cash. I stood just outside of the line and continued to watch him considering there are plenty of items for him to pocket there. To my surprise, he buys the remainder of the items in his cart, which he might have been planning from the get-go since the amount of stuff he had was more than what could fit into his backpack.


After cashing out, the shabby man put everything back into his cart and proceeded toward the door. Considering that our carts have poles designed specifically to prevent them from going out the door, it wasn't very successful, the first few times anyway. He kept brute forcing it until it cleared, all while the person on door duty was continuously telling him not to.


I followed the shabby man outside, informing him about the cart situation. After a dumbfounded expression, he complied and followed me back in. I kept my eye on him since I suppose he was my mess. For whatever reason, he felt compelled to shove his bags of items into his backpack, since I guess he doesn't feel complete without leaving Dollarama with a pack full of stuff. In the meantime, he starts to chat me up.


Shabby man - "Ah, you're really good at your job, you. You got a good eye. You should take that as a compliment."


Meanwhile, I'm nodding along, only half paying attention to what he was saying.


After he left, I followed the trail he left behind. While he might have paid for the stuff in his cart, there were opened packages scattered everywhere. It was like he was afraid of getting lost. Among them was about five packages of Hot Wheels cars. A minor theft auto, if you will. I think the next time I see the shabby man I'll ask him about his opinion on Thunderball, after all, he seemed to be a fan of the replica of Bond's car from that movie.


Ambition is the spark that ignites us all. It may bring us great victories, but it may also boost our confidence enough to lead us to our inevitable failure. The tale that is about to be told is one such example, so listen well to...




A sketch man enters the store and begins his browsing. Given that he had an air of familiarity, it did not bode well. Considering that we have so many shoplifters, it's difficult to identify them unless they're frequent or do something considerably stupid to make their faces memorable. He had done neither, yet.


Sketch man's browse was short, so short that it was doubtful that he grabbed anything. Regardless, he approached the cash and asked to buy a plastic bag. I obliged and he walked out the door. I thought that was the last we'd see of him.


Three hours later.


While I was putting stock away, I caught a glimpse of sketch man's backpack dip into another aisle. Being that I can't let sleeping dogs lie, I pursue. Sketch man grabs two bottles of Gatorade and an armful of snacks, then zips away to another aisle, one that isn't as crowded. I follow, but I stay just outside of the aisle and spy around the corner.


Sketch man plops all the snacks he had onto a nearby shelf and pulls out the plastic bag that he bought earlier. Just as he places the bottles into the bag, I make my move.


Me - "Excuse me, sir, you can't place those items in your bag until you pay for them."


Sketch man - "Oh, sorry, I didn't want to drop them."


Me - "I can get you a basket if you want."


Sketch man - "Oh, no, I'm good."


Foiled, sketch man returns the bag to his sweater's uni-pocket. He ditches his food items and walks away with the two bottles of Gatorade.


For the next five minutes, the man just paces around the section of Gatorade bottles, putting the bottles back on the shelf, picking them up, checking if I'm watching him, reading the bottles in case new information suddenly appears on it.


In the end, he managed to snag a bottle when I wasn't looking and placed it in his uni-pocket, getting away. It goes to show, sometimes the simpler methods are the more effective ones.


Sometimes questions are better left unanswered. Especially when you're the one being asked. Yes, it is time again for...




While I was stocking the shelves in the pet section, a man approached me with a quirked brow.


Man - "What happened to the arrows on the ground?"


Much like grocery stores, Dollarama had arrows on the ground to direct foot traffic. Not that a lot of people followed them. On this day, they were absent.


Me - "Oh yeah, the floor cleaners were here last night. They had to scrape them off, but we should have them back up soon."


The man's demeanour was unchanged. Honestly, I thought he was going to complain about their absence at first, but I was incredibly wrong on that notion.


Man - "Oh, that's fine. I don't believe in any of this Covid-19 stuff anyways. I'll tell you what, my cousin in law was sick for many years. He was gonna die, it was just a matter of when."


He seemed as broken up about it as it sounds.


Man - "When he died a couple weeks back, they claimed that he died from Covid-19. Can you believe that? What a bunch of nonsense."


I remained with a deadpan expression, nodding along with what the man was saying to act like I was contributing to the conversation.


Me - "Weird."


Man - "I know right? Anyways, take care buddy."


The man walked off, no doubt toward the kitchen section to grab some tin foil.


Knowledge is a gift. Sometimes though when you receive a gift, all you want to do is return it. This is just one case, wrapped in the form of...




As much flack as I give to cash duty, sometimes it is the better alternative. Especially when faced with the dreaded door duty. There comes one perk in recent times though, I will elaborate momentarily.


A group of three walked into the store, ones that were well acquainted with our policies. They froze at the entrance, waiting for me to hand them a cart and re-iterate the phrase that has been forever burned into my mind. I didn't though.


The man of the group approached the cart que and motioned to grab one.


Man - "Do we still have to take a cart?"


Me - "No. Our policy's changed."


The man looked to the other two he was shopping with, reeling his head back with a smarmy complexion.


Man - "See? I told you they couldn't force us to take carts for long."


The three of them laughed, while I just sort of plastered a fake smile until they left. Once they were out of sight, I just rolled my eyes. The policy hadn't changed because someone told us we couldn't, it changed because Dollarama didn't deem it necessary after Covid-19 restrictions were lessened. We had health and safety regulators come into our store at random once per week to make sure people were taking the carts and abiding by our policies.


But yeah, whatever, let the man have his moment while he and his group are occupying a sixth of our maximum capacity. I'm sure the people waiting in line outside the store can appreciate his genius.


The definition of insanity is doing the same thing twice and expecting different results. Except it isn't, but it fits the narrative of this story so for all intents and purposes, it is...




With the advent of Covid-19 threatening to close any store that couldn't abide by the agenda of cleanliness, the heads of Dollarama had to put their thinking caps on. When they heard of grocery stores installing plastic shields at the cash registers, they thought it was genius. They had to get their hands on some. That, however, would take time.


While big brother Dollarama was acquiring the shipment, they notified the stores that they would be coming in 'soon.' How long 'soon' was, nobody knew. 'Soon' soon turned into weeks. We were at the height of the pandemic, 'soon' might not be enough.


Head office decided that a temporary solution was in order, to stave off the 'soon.' It were decreed, until the shipment came in, we were to setup cellophane in its place.


The cellophane was installed. Many a roll of painter's tape was sacrificed that day. Whether it was the solution we needed was up for debate, but it was the solution that the customers needed. Many a grim complexion was washed away with laughter upon seeing our display.


Two hours after the cellophane was put up, head office called. They said that after consulting with health and safety professionals, we were required to take the cellophane down. Unlike a plastic shield, the cellophane couldn't be easily disinfected.


The week after the cellophane fiasco, 'soon' had decided to come. The plastic shields were finally in the building. The district manager even came to help install them. Something wasn't right though. The district manager looked to me for insight.


District manager - "Do these look a bit short to you?"


The plastic shields only covered about a third of the counter at the cash. If one were to hide behind the cash register itself, they would be completely covered, otherwise, not so much.


Head office was notified upon this error being caught. They sent out a statement to cease all other shipments of the plastic shields, assuring us that they will receive properly sized shields. No mention of us getting a replacement though.


The plastic shields provided to us did not solve the issue. What to do? Well, the rest of the counter space just needed a substitute. Something we have in mass quantities at the store. Again, with the cellophane, commanded big brother Dollarama.


And so, the counter at the cash was now protected by both a plastic shield and cellophane. With this new setup, I once got a compliment about it.


Customer - "It's better than anything Bulk Barn's doing to protect us."


I shuttered then, only left to imagine what horrors lie within Bulk Barn.


There are only so many ways that a tale can twist and turn. It boggles the mind. But nothing is more mind boggling than...




The cash register, so simple a task, yet it brings the most conflict. Of course, once again I was stationed there. All things considered; it was a peaceful day.


A woman approached my counter with a shopping cart full of various items. It was still early in the Covid-19 pandemic, so everyone was still buying in bulk. Among the product she was purchasing were a couple rolls of painter’s tape, each of various sizes. The thinner ones went through fine. It was when the thicker rolls came that trouble arose.


The computer screen screeched, displaying an error message. It then automatically voided the item. I read it aloud.


Me - "For sanitary purposes, this item cannot be sold. Hmm, weird."


The woman's eyelids shot up in terror. Her hands scattered closer to her bodice, her fingers wriggling like she was ready to shriek.


Woman - "But I've already touched them!"


Looking downwards, I sighed with a bit of a laugh.


Me - "No, no, we use the painter's tape to mark the floor and put up the plastic wrap. It's grouped in with our sanitary items. There's nothing wrong with it, I just can't sell it to you."


Woman - "Well, they're still on the floor."


I asked the woman to show me where the painter's tape was displayed on the floor. Once there, I grabbed the remaining rolls and brought them back to cash so this incident wouldn't be repeated. It wasn't over yet though.


Woman - "So, what about my tape?"


Me - "It won't go through."


The woman picked up one of the thinner rolls of painter's tape and scanned it over the counter again.


Woman - "They're the same price, so that solves the problem."


The woman was clearly not understanding the concept of why I couldn't sell the tape to her and I've had to argue with customers over stupider things, so I just sighed and tossed the tape into her bag.



If you think your heart strong, then consider delving even further into the pits of despair. They thought it couldn't be contained, but yet it has. TALES FROM THE DOLLARAMA is now available in print. Now each story not only holds terror within its content, but also the fear of physical lacerations should you shiver when turning the page. This edition chronicles every tale that has been told here, including exclusives and bonus content, such as a top 5 list of stolen goods. Number 2 will convince your dad to come back home. Links are below.


© 2020 Redgrim

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Added on June 1, 2020
Last Updated on November 11, 2020
Tags: Dollarama, retail, horror story, real life, coronavirus, covid-19, true story, memoir



Val Therese, Ontario, Canada