|3/25/2020 4:06:00 PM|
Stores fight to keep shelves filled here
|One of the biggest changes wrought by COVID-19 for many Crawford County residents is that they are more aware of something they may have taken for granted: groceries.|
Suddenly, shelves usually filled with food and other essentials, are empty and local stores have struggled to keep up with demand.
And while high-demand items such as toilet paper are beginning to return to stores, it will be a while before normalcy is restored.
At the Robinson County Market, for example, the store continues to get regular deliveries, but not everything that is ordered arrives.
"That's pretty much everywhere, I think," office manager Kristi Ferguson told the Daily News.
Staples such as bread, eggs and milk as well as hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes remain hard to keep in stock.
"We're getting those things, but they just go so quick," Ferguson said. "As soon as we get them on the shelves, they're gone."
Meat, too, is in big demand. "We can hardly get it out quick enough," she explained.
"We've had a lot of people come in, but it's slowed down," Ferguson said, explaining she thinks some people have started taking the situation more seriously.
Others are still taking a more "relaxed" attitude about things because Crawford County has yet to have a case of COVID-19.
"If we take precautions, we'll all be a lot safer," she said.
County Market switched to reduced hours Tuesday. It is now open 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Walmart is starting to replenish its wares, manager Tommy Arnold said.
"We've got toilet paper, ground beef, milk and bleach" among other items that vanished rapidly in recent days, Arnold said.
Some items are still out across the board, the store is no longer "completely wiped out" of items in any category.
The Robinson store has continued to get regular deliveries of new products, but it simply could not keep up with the heightened demand, Arnold explained.
Meanwhile, the store is hiring temporary workers, not only to help keep up with demand, but to provide a source of income to local residents who may be laid off because of the coronavirus.
Walmart remains on shorter hours. It is open 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. every day. Also, it is open for persons 60 years old or older beginning at 6 a.m. every Tuesday.
"They can shop in the store without being exposed to other customers," Arnold said.
The pharmacy and vision center are also open at 6 a.m. Tuesdays for the older shoppers.
Associates continue to work their full shifts despite the shorter hours. This gives them time to clean and sanitize the store and stock shelves.
"It's definitely been crazy, that's for sure," Ruler Foods manager Rex Grissom said, explaining that "just about everything" was in demand.
"But it's finally calming down," he said.
Grissom said the store is getting new merchandise in as well as it can, but that some of the warehouses that supply it are running low.
Regular shipments continue to arrive, though.
Ruler is also open for shorter hours than usual. Its temporary hours are 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. daily. Employees are still working full shifts so they can clean and stock shelves.
Most customers have been patient and understanding about the situation. Grissom said Ruler has had no problem with unruly shoppers.
The same is true, for the most part, at County Market.
"Most [customers] are appreciative, but we've had some pretty mean customers," Ferguson said.
Ferguson urged people to keep in mind that grocery store employees are putting their own health and safety on the line to ensure others can get what they need.
She added that if customers do their weekly grocery shopping, buy what they need and not overbuy, there should be enough for everyone.
Ferguson also asked that people be respectful of one another and remain six feet apart to help prevent the spread of disease.
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