Businesses in Fernie, and in the Elk Valley, continue to change their business models to better suit a pandemic ridden world. Soranne Floarea/The Free Press

Local businesses continue to adapt to COVID-19 restrictions

More online services and alternative business models pop up as the pandemic ensues

Though many shops and services remain closed, a number of businesses in town have adjusted their practices to adapt with current regulations.

To account for the closure of their building, the Fernie Heritage Library is one of the many enterprises that have made a number of alterations to their usual services. In an effort to continue encouraging residents to read, they now offer various programs and services through online portals.

At the moment, patrons can access library material through their curbside service, where selected books are ordered online or via phone call and picked up in front of the library. Later this month, the Fernie Heritage Library will expand the program by offering home deliveries, in an effort to ensure utmost accessibility. To use the curbside service, call (250) 423-4458, email the library at, or place holds through their website at

The Fernie Heritage Library is also offering an abundance of online programming through their Facebook page and Zoom, including virtual Storytime on Tuesdays and Fridays, virtual Toddlertime on Wednesdays, Crafternoon, a virtual book club for youngsters, Writers Circle, and their Tea and Talk Book Club. For more on these programs, visit the library’s Facebook page. Through their online services, patrons can also access eBooks, audiobooks, digital magazines, newspapers, movies, and resources such as Ancestry Online.

While loan periods for outstanding books have been extended for two months, and late fees are being waived, books can still be returned via the usual return slot. To ensure utmost hygiene, returned books are quarantined for a minimum if 72 hours and wiped with a bleach solution after use.

“I want the community to know we are here for them. The number of people accessing the library continues to grow, and we are so happy to be able to continue offering our service and programs,” said Emma Dressler, library director of the Fernie Heritage Library.

Another local business that has made significant changes is the Mountain Pantry Grocery and Liquor Store, located at Fernie Alpine Resort. New this spring is their grocery and alcohol delivery service, where clients can order from a wide selection of products from the comfort of their home. Available items include fresh produce, dairy products, frozen meals, assorted snacks, alcohol, and more. To view the full stock list and to order from the Mountain Pantry, visit

Using the designated order numbers, customers are to call 250-423-2056 to place an order between 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays. All distributions adhere to social distancing protocols, and are available for next day delivery. Both credit card and debit payments are accepted, and can be processed either over the phone or upon delivery. Any outstanding questions about their new delivery program can be sent to

In anticipation of this summer being predominantly take out based, Rooftop Coffee Roasters have also shifted operations by opening up a coffee trailer for road side caffeine needs. Their trailer, dubbed Tina Trailer, is currently located beside the Chopstick Truck on the side of Highway 3. At the moment, clients can order online for pick up at either of their locations, or head in for curbside service. The coffee trailer is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursdays to Mondays, however hours may extend in the coming weeks. For more information and updates, visit Rooftop Coffee Roaster’s Facebook page.

Recently, Fernie Distillers have also been licensed to sell and distribute hand sanitizer. In order to do so, they received three new licenses, two from Health Canada and one from Excise Canada. According to Jillian Rutherford, co-owner of Fernie Distillers, the licensing application process was expedited due to an increased need for hand sanitizer. With their new licenses, Fernie Distillers is now able to purchase Neutral Grain Spirit from other companies, allowing them to skip the labour intensive process. Resultantly, they have since made a whopping 700 litres of hand sanitizer, enough to fill gaps in local supply.

“I started out donating as much as I could to high risk and vulnerable populations like the RCMP, FSAR, Fernie Fire Department, Hosmer and South Country Fire, healthcare workers, home care providers, seniors and immunosuppressed. I couldn’t maintain that, so I asked Fernie Brewing Company for help. They emptied their taproom kegs and donated a pallet of beer soon to expire. This meant I could distill their product and that would save me time and some cost of ingredients. We donated approximately 48 litres to first responders and extended care homes in Fernie and Sparwood,” said Rutherford.

Fernie Distillers is currently distributing their hand sanitizers widely and it can be found in Fernie at a number of businesses including Save On Foods, Freshies, The Chopstick Truck, and The Tipple, among others.

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