Northside Cafe launches essentials shop in response to COVID-19 pandemic

Toilet Paper Essential Items
Samer Nassar/Courtesy

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Northside Cafe launched an essentials shop April 26 to help community members purchase hard-to-find items during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The store sells products such as home disinfectant kits, toilet paper, flour and other essentials consumers may not be able to find in other stores. Customers order from the online store and are able to pick up their purchases at Northside Cafe on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“NorthSide Cafe wants to provide the essentials that our neighborhood needs,” Northside Cafe’s website states. “Most importantly we are able to provide work for some of our staff until the Shelter in Place is lifted.”

The site has received more than 200 orders so far, according to Soosh Nassar, managing partner of Northside Cafe. The products come from company wholesalers, Nassar said.

The idea for the store started when Nassar could only find sanitizer from his supplier but it was exclusively sold in bulk.

“I hopped on amazon and checked prices for empty plastic bottles and decided to post it on facebook to see if anyone would be interested. Focusing on the local groups in my community I put together about 50 orders in a couple of days,” Nassar said in an email. “When I saw the gratitude, I thought it would be a good move to open up the Essential Shop.”

The café also partnered with the Nurse Angel Network, or NAN, an organization that fundraises to purchase personal protective equipment, or PPE, for health care workers. NAN provided masks for Northside Cafe to sell in its store, according to NAN founder Jennifer Lau.

Nassar said the organizations were connected “by chance” through a former customer after he posted on Facebook.

“Having friends and family in the medical health field that are working first hand with Covid Patients, it bothers me to think they do not have the proper PPE’s,” Nassar said in the email. “It made it easier to make the decision to partner up.”

When customers purchase a cloth mask from the essentials shop, $5 of the $10 purchase goes directly to NAN.

Nassar noted that feedback on the store has been “great,” adding that both Northside Cafe and coffee shop Brewed Awakening are planning to reopen in a limited capacity soon.

Clara Rodas contributed to this article.

Sebastian Cahill is a deputy news editor. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @SebastianCahil1.