A Scottish convenience store has given away thousands of dollars in free toilet paper, antibacterial handwash, tissues, and anti-inflammatories to seniors staying home amidst novel coronavirus warnings.

Customers over the age of 65 and those with mobility issues facing self-isolation can either pick up the free goods at the Day-Today convenience store in Drylaw, Edinburgh or have the “coronavirus kits” delivered to their house for free by calling the shop.

34-year-old shop owner Zahid Iqbal has already given away more than 1,000 kits, and he says he hopes it “sets a good example” for other consumers and businesses as shop shelves have been left bare from panic-buying.

Since each pack costs around £5 to make, Iqbal said the initiative has already cost his business a whopping £5,000 ($6,100) not including the cost of fuel for home deliveries.

He is also considering making food bags, with pasta and tinned goods, as panic buying leaves store shelves empty and supermarkets struggle to meet demand.

“We’ve given away more than a thousand now, that’s just over the weekend,” says Iqbal. “It’s a time when we need to stick together.”

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The idea came to Iqbal while accompanying his parents to a local supermarket, where they encountered a shocking number of empty shelves.

“We have lots of customers from the local care homes, as well as disabled customers, who can’t get hand sanitizers, loo rolls or anything at all.

“We just want to set a good example in this world.”

The family-run store, which currently employs five people, has served the local community for more than 15 years—and although they have received a flood of requests for the coronavirus kids, Iqbal believes his loyal customers are worth every penny during these times of uncertainty.

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“I had to get staff in to do deliveries, and petrol’s not included,” said Iqbal. “We’ve done quite a few deliveries to people who can’t get out and collecting. A lot of new people have been coming in showing appreciation as well and promising they’ll shop local in the future—lots of nice gestures.

“The appreciation we’ve been getting has been out of this world,” he added. “You couldn’t get this kind of satisfaction if you spent thousands of pounds, it’s amazing.”

He said that the shop has been refusing to take donations for the kits, but Day-Today may reconsider accepting financial contributions in the future depending on how things turn out.

“Money can be made in the future,” said Iqbal. “You don’t want to make your money by putting your prices up in a situation like this—people will remember after all this is over.

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“Right now, we need to do our part for the community. I think it’s very important.

“I can feel how other people out there feel,” he added “We want to help out for as long as we can manage and everybody needs to be doing their bit.

“This week I was planning on doing food bags. “If we run out of toilet rolls, then the next thing we want to do is pasta. If there’s a lockdown, people need to be able to look after themselves.

“The satisfaction you get helping people out is just amazing,” he concluded.

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