• Last modified 422 days ago (July 23, 2020)


Grocers cope with masks, shortages

Staff writer

Most of the staff and employees of area grocers are choosing to wear masks amid a surge in the number of cases in the county.

Area businesses say they are trying to make their customers feel comfortable even as COVID-19 continues to stifle their supply lines keep and some goods off their shelves.

“We try our best,” said Greg Carlson of Carlsons’ Grocery in Marion. “We may pull our mask down just to breathe for a little while and then pull it back up when we meet the next customers.”

Wearing masks all day is not always comfortable, but employees are making it work, he said.

“We still have a station up front where you can wash your cart and use hand sanitizer,” he said.

Napkins and toilet paper, bleach, and wipes still are hard to stock months after the first stay-at-home order in March caused a stampede on the store.

Goods shortages even have hit some foodstuffs, he said.

“For a while I had trouble getting beans,” he said. “They are kind of on back-order now.”

Catherine Weems, owner of Peabody Market, said she ran out of dried beans, too.

“They last forever, and people stocked up, she said. “People thought they weren’t going to be able to buy groceries.

“Right now we are just trying to play catch up on things that were depleted.”

Coke, Pepsi and beer companies are sending only a limited variety of their products and stocking with their mainline sellers because of a shortage of metal for cans.

“I have had some suppliers tell me the supply comes out of China and they are having a hard time ordering the metal needed,” Weems said.

Some of her employees faithfully wear masks, some do not, and customers have that same option, she said.

“There are not a lot of customers in the store at any given time,” she said. “We have markings on the floors and counters reminding people to stay six feet apart.”

Peabody Market still sells homemade masks as a food bank fundraiser. Hatton’s Hometown Hardware also sells them.

Dale Franz, owner of Dale’s Supermarket, says masks are a personal preference in his shop, but most employees wear them. The store wipes off cart and has hand sanitizer available.

Supplies of Lysol, Kleenex, and sanitizing wipes are hard to stock, but so are pickles.

“And pickles is strange, but you have to let those mature and get pickled before they are sellable,” he said. “If you run out it takes a while to get caught up.

But Weems said she was glad that the atmosphere and shortages calmed down since the “frenzy” in March.

“People are sticking closer to home,” she said. “They don’t want to deal with the big store if they don’t have to. I’ve been seeing the difference in more local shopping.”

Last modified July 23, 2020