Nearly 100 members of the local Ralph’s Food Fair team are pulling together to do everything they can to keep the local supermarket safe for their shoppers, as well as themselves and their own families.
“The store is an essential part of the emergency program and will be open for all shopping needs during this time frame. We are taking every precaution possible,” said Manager Marshall Hensley Friday (March 27, 2020).
Many of the store’s 92 employees wear masks on the job, and everyone wears gloves. A couple of the older workers, including cashiers and one in the meat department, have elected to remain home due to concerns about carrying illness to their own family.
“That is certainly an option,” Hensley said. “We’re backing it 100 percent.”
Several precautions have been put in place, including large X’s on the floor to remind shoppers to maintain their distance. Corporate Food Fair employee Chris Evans was at the Grayson store Friday morning to install plexiglass shields between cashiers and customers.
A special hour, from 7 to 8 a.m., has been designated for senior citizens, people with disabilities and those who “don’t want to be out with a big crowd,” the store manager noted.
The store is also using it’s large electronic sign, as well as social media posts, to advise shoppers of notices such as the special hour for those with health concerns.
So far, shoppers have been “calm and in good humor,” Hensley said, adding he hopes customers will remain patient as they adjust to the new rules of supply and demand.
“We ask people to be patient with certain items. We are all working as hard as we can,” he said, citing extra efforts along the line from offices to warehouses to trucking to stocking the shelves to checking out shoppers and returning carts to the entrance.
Some items will be available in limited quantities. The store had name-brand toilet paper on this day.
“We’re stocking it as soon as we get it in,” Hensley said, explaining each Food Fair store receives an equal shipment of available inventories.
Ralph’s currently has between 1,000 and 1,100 customers daily.
“Two weeks ago it was 3,000 or 4,000 a day,” Hensley observed.
Story and Photos by TIM PRESTON