At the Northern in Baker Lake, twice a year we have this thing called “Sealift”. Now, most of you are likely sitting there going, “What in the heck is a sealift?” Well, that is the reason for this blog entry.
Sealift is an “event” where the barge comes in from the south with non-perishable foods and retail goods for the store stock. The barge is brought in to the pier in town by a tug boat, and is then docked. The barge is loaded with storage containers called “Sea Cans”. Each sea can is packed full with goods, and measures out to a size of about 9 feet wide and 20 feet long. Now, just to set the scene, our store is the second biggest store in the company in terms of sales and revenue.
With that being said, we get a whole lot of stuff in sea lift.
22 sea cans to be exact (and that is only the first barge of the year).
Starting last Wednesday morning, we started unloading our sea cans, which were dropped off behind the store for us by the shipping company. For this process, we hire some of the young local guys to help out since it is a long, hard process. We hand bomb EVERYTHING from each sea can into the warehouse at the store, and then pile it in a certain spot depending on the item. For example, if it is an item that can’t be frozen, it stays in the “Old Store”, which is our biggest warehouse and has heat in it. For paper products, pasta noodles, garbage bags, etc., they go in either the “First”, “Second” or “Third” warehouse, which are not heated.
We started unloading the sea cans at 10 am on Wednesday morning. We stopped for an hour for lunch, an hour for dinner, and the odd “smoke” break during the day. We didn’t leave the store until midnight.
Thursday morning at 10 am, we started once again. However, because we are management, we started at 8 am like usual. We repeated the same system as the day before, with one exception. We tried using a “roller” system. Now, rollers are exactly as they sound. It is a table like structure with rollers on it that allow you to slide objects across it. This was set up in order to make the distance between people shorter, hence less throwing of boxes and less injuries. As Grace will attest to, this was good in theory.
During the unloading of cases of Carnation Milk (48 cans to a case), the rollers fell over, and hit Grace in the leg. Thankfully she only walked away with a couple of bruises, but they are quite the bruises, as the picture before shows.
Because of this, Grace went home to rest. I got home at 10 pm that night.
On Friday, the worst of sea lift was over. The last six or seven sea cans were full of furniture, which are big items and are a lot quicker to empty out. We pulled everything out of the sea cans, and then Allan, who is our store manager, organized everything into certain sea cans to be kept as storage until our Arena Sale (which will be a totally different article at the end of the month).
So, by closing on Friday night, WE WERE DONE!!!
Overall, sea lift is quite the thing. Now, I know that we have explained in the past that we get freight by plane probably five times a week, so why do we do sea lift?
It’s very simple: money.
It is much cheaper to bring in product by sea lift, therefore we sell the items at a lower price.
What does that mean? The customer saves money.
For instance, a 12 pack of pop costs $19.99 after sea lift, compared to $27.99 when brought in by plane.
Sea lift also allows us to bring in massive quantities of pop, which also allows us to have better stock on items.
So, there you have it folks. That is what sea lift is all about.