Grocery stores and their employees are on the front lines during the fight against COVID-19.
IGA Quincy Market is doing what it can to protect its employees and the public from the virus, while still providing essential resources, said David Weber, IGA Quincy Market general manager. The market has installed plastic sneeze guards at each of its check stands, is wiping down credit card terminals continuously throughout the day and requiring staff to wear gloves.
“Our team members have been really great superstars by showing up for work every day and being on those front lines,” Weber said.
IGA Quincy Market is one of four independent grocery stores that Weber helps operate, along with stores in Cashmere, Okanogan and Grandview, he said.
The market has hired additional staff during COVID-19 to clean touch points throughout the store, as well as do additional cleaning in the morning and at night, he said. It’s also having staff look for any symptoms of the virus and call in sick if they don’t feel well.
“We’re in the battle and we’re out there taking care of our customers that support us and we’re going to continue to do that,” Weber said.
The store is also appreciative of the volunteers in the community who have stepped up to help do things like wipe down carts, he said.
The efforts are important because grocery stores are needed to provide essential items during this crisis and help people stay in quarantine, Weber said. In particular, he’s seen toilet paper, hand soap and flour flying off the shelves.
“Toilet paper was a crazy mess. Well, still a crazy mess right now,” he said.
Their warehouses are shorthanded on certain things and understaffed, Weber said.
“They’re trying to pepper out what’s available to all their independent stores,” he said.
As for new services, they have been providing curbside grocery pickup at their Cashmere and Okanogan stores, but not Quincy and Grandview, Weber said. It has been very successful, though, so they are considering expanding it.
He doesn’t know what the future will bring for independent grocery stores or whether the industry may see lasting changes due to COVID-19, he said. One thing he’s curious about are the plastic sneeze guards.
“I think they’re great right now. Down the road when the virus is inactive and gone, will those plastic barriers stay up? Boy, I don’t know,” Weber said.