Shawn Saeedian never envisioned that he would be at the frontlines of a war when he bought a local market some 30 years ago. But that is precisely the situation he finds himself in today. The proprietor of Beverly Hills Market & Deli is adapting to the difficult conditions wrought by COVID-19, but remains steadfastly open for business.
“It’s a new thing for all of us, and we’re trying to keep up. I think people are panicking more than what they need to do. There’s a lot of product available. But we need more time than usual to bring it in,” Saeedian told the Courier.
The only independently owned market in Beverly Hills is located at 303 N. Crescent Dr. Current hours of operation are 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
“From seven to eight in the morning, we are open for our seniors and people who have challenges. We’ve had to adjust to the shorter hours (they were previously open until 9 p.m.) because we’re working so much harder to catch up,” said Saeedian.
By “catching up,” Saeedian means a literal scramble to find inventory for his store. His usual supply channels are not always consistent of late. He suspects they may be prioritizing deliveries to large grocery chains.
As a result, there are some empty shelves at the Beverly Hills Market.
But, Saeedian and his wife Angela are putting in 13-hour days to stay in business.
“We may not have the same merchandise that we usually carry. I am calling as many different sources as I can. We are driving around, picking things up and putting them on the shelves. Right now, a lot of people want lentils and rice, which can be hard to find. We’ve gone to restaurant supply houses and bought things in bulk. We’re repackaging it ourselves,” said Saeedian.
He has also become a social media marketer, posting photos of newly arrived products on Facebook and Instagram.
“People are sharing my posts with each other, which is great,” said Saeedian.
Despite the increased workload, Saeedian has not raised any of his prices. In fact, some items are lower than usual. Eggs, for example, he is sourcing from restaurant supply houses and selling them in packages of 30 for $9.99, as opposed to $4.99 per dozen, pre-virus.
The Beverly Hills Market has always been an extended family affair. In addition to Angela, his sister Janet and dad (who has since passed away) have helped with the business.
His employees are also part of the family. Saeedian has not laid off a single one.
“Our kitchen closed, so we added the kitchen people to the grocery staff. They need to support their families, so they are helping to stock the shelves. We constantly have guys cleaning up the store,” said Saeedian.
All employees are wearing gloves and masks. Saeedian encourages customers venturing to the market in person to do the same.
Aside from the dry cleaner next door, Saeedian sees very few other business owners these days. That’s tough for someone known for his community involvement.
“When I ran out of product, I could have walked away. But Beverly Hills has been supporting me for years and now, I want to repay the City. I’m blessed to be in a position where I can do it. We’ve gone through earthquakes, some riots. But nothing ever like this. It is an unknown, but we will be here through it all,” said Saeedian.
In return, he asks only this:
“I want everyone to be nice to each other. Acknowledge those that are still out there working. In any business you visit, thank the people who are jeopardizing their own health. Ask for their name, introduce yourself. There are times when my employees aren’t taking lunch breaks. Let’s remember we are all in this together.”