Local grocery stores adapt to panic buying, new restrictions

Mulberry’s Market, Piedmont Grocery, Trader Joe’s on College Ave and Village Market are urging consumers to resume normal purchasing levels so that food and supplies are available to all, especially to our most vulnerable populations who may only have a rare chance to get to a store. Each is putting into practice new protocols: stores are encouraging (or enforcing) social distancing, adjusting hours and staff, and have increased vigilance in sanitizing points of contact throughout their stores.

Trader Joe’s customers have experienced a long line of shoppers, spaced 6 feet apart, waiting for their turn to be among the limit of 50 people in the store. 

Village Market has no limits on purchases of produce and meat, as they are from local suppliers, but limits shoppers to one item each of cleaner, sanitizer, toilet paper and paper towels, and two items of dry goods. 

Piedmont Grocery has adjusted their hours in order to restock and do a deep cleaning of the store. Along with Village Market, Piedmont Grocery offers a senior shopping hour. 

Mulberry’s Market has reduced staff in the store by 50% in order to reduce the number of people within the store at a time and has eliminated all indoor and outdoor seating. While Mulberry’s continues to provide deli service, co-owner Chad Olcott asks that customers be patient while they are staffed below normal. “We are determined to provide services to our community in the safest and healthiest way possible,” Chad stated. 

Bigger stores like Safeway and Costco are also restocking and have now placed limits on purchases of cleaners, sanitizers and toilet paper (one pack per customer). Safeway began offering senior shopping hours to reduce their risk of exposure from the continuous crowds and long lines. This week, residents reported that local Safeways appeared less nimble in adapting to the new realities, with slow checkouts, empty shelves, and very little effort put into social distancing measures. 

Smaller stores are often better stocked, are controlling the number of people inside, and have fewer people handling items. It’s a good time to support them during this tumultuous period.  

  • Mulberry’s Market: open from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.; receiving regular deliveries. In an email to customers on Friday, Laura Pochop noted they are trying to manage “very lumpy and somewhat frantic demand” but that staples are back on the shelves. They are also looking into the possibility of offering delivery services.
  • Piedmont Grocery: starting on Sunday, March 22, temporary business hours are 10 a.m. -7 p.m., 6 days a week and closed on Thursdays. Senior shopping hours for 65+ are from 9 -10 am each morning. 
  • Trader Joe’s: open from 9 a.m.-7 p.m.; limit of 50 people in the store 
  • Village Market: open every day from 9 a.m. -7 p.m., with senior shopping from 8-9 a.m.

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