Big Value opens for curbside pickup

Apr 29, 2020

Among the many Dartmouth retailers adapting to the new post-pandemic reality is Dartmouth Street landmark Big Value, which reopened for curbside pickup service last week.

The independent retail store had been closed for four weeks due to coronavirus.

Owner and Select Board member David Tatelbaum noted that one week in, the change is going “surprisingly well.”

“We tried to devise something simple,” he said. “We’re not an online seller — We’re trying to blend old school and new school.”

The new system allows shoppers to browse a list of popular items — yes, including toilet paper — on the store’s website and Facebook page. They call in the order, and Tatelbaum’s staff members go shopping for them.

“Some of my employees like it because it’s like they’re shopping but spending someone else’s money,” he said with a laugh.

Customers pay with credit or debit cards and pre-arrange a pick-up time, and once the order is confirmed, they drive by to collect their items.

“It’s a creative way of doing business,” Tatelbaum noted. “I’ve been doing this for 45 years, and this is the first time we’ve done anything like this.”

Tatelbaum’s normal staff of 30 full-time and part-time employees has been reduced to 8-10, he said, although he continued to pay them all — even while the store was closed.

“We paid out of pocket for the first four weeks, we paid everybody,” he said. “I have employees that have been working here full time from anywhere between 12-30 years. They're like family.”

Luckily, the business was able to get its pandemic relief loan, which has helped it continue to pay its employees.

“It worked out well,” Tatelbaum noted.

Big Value Outlet is currently offering a variety of necessities, including toilet paper — although it is limited to two four-packs per customer.

The store also has disposable masks, although it has yet to find hand sanitizer to stock.

“We’re putting out different merchandise all the time,” said Tatelbaum. “We hope to have sanitizer within a week or two.”

He added that even as Massachusetts may start easing regulations and opening up in the coming weeks, the store may continue to offer the curbside service.

“People may ease in slowly and carefully,” Tatelbaum noted. “I think we'll continue it so that we can offer the service to people who aren't quite ready to go into a retail store.”

This article has been corrected to show that Big Value carries disposable masks. It does not have disinfectant wipes.