GREAT BARRINGTON — From implementing one-way aisles to adjusting store hours for the accommodation of seniors, staff at local grocery stores and their customers are adapting to a new normal.
Grocers including, but not limited to, Price Chopper, Guido’s Fresh Marketplace and Big Y are now enforcing in-house protocols to better defend against the spread of the novel coronavirus. Customers are also being asked to take certain precautions as well, including making stores more accessible to senior citizens and to those with compromised immune systems.
Guido’s of Great Barrington has changed their hours of operation to 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
Guido’s began limiting the number of people allowed inside the store to 20 to 25 people, as well as asking for quicker and more efficient shopping from its customers on Sunday, March 22, said Alana Chernila, marketing manager at Guido’s Fresh Marketplace.
“That actually tends to be the busiest time of day, so the line is quite long,” Chernila said of the store’s reserved shopping hours. “We’re requesting that only one person shops per family. It helps limit the numbers in the store but it also limits the conversations in the aisles which can block the space and make it harder for people to get around while still social distancing.”
Chernila said that a queue of people can be seen outside the store during its busier and earlier hours. She said she often advises customers to return in the middle of the day if possible for reduced wait times. She also gave praise to the store’s employees, who she says are equipped with personal protective gear.
“People have to come ready, dress for the weather and wait outside,” Chernila said. “We encourage them to just get their shopping done, move through and to get home. It’s really sort of the tone in the stores that is a big difference.”
Similar changes arrived at Price Chopper in Great Barrington where the plea for efficient shopping can be heard and seen throughout the store.
Cash registers inside the store are open on an alternating basis and plexiglass shields have been installed at the store’s customer service desk and at its pharmacy.
Price Chopper has also implemented a one-way aisle policy, as an attempt to keep their customer’s social distancing up to par with the state and federal guidelines, said Mona Golub, vice-president of public relations and consumer services for Price Chopper/Market 32, headquartered in Schenectady, New York.
“Social distancing protocols have increased in the last couple of weeks with signage erected, floor graphics and keeping the customers two carts apart,” Golub said. “People I suppose are getting used to it, like every incremental adjustment so far, it’s different.”
With more than 20,000 items available at Price Chopper stores throughout the New England region, Golub says there have been certain items that have been slower to reappear on the shelves, but said there is no slowdown of the incoming food supply.
“It’s important for people to understand the food supply is not in jeopardy,” Golub said. “We might not be getting 100 percent of what we order, but product is still flowing.”
Products like canned vegetables and pasta, as well as toilet paper and hand sanitizers, take a little longer to be replaced, slower to replenish in their stores, she added.
Price Chopper in Great Barrington has also adjusted its daily hours in order to conduct nightly cleanings of the stores between the hours of 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. Cashiers are also receiving hand-washing breaks every half-hour, according to Golub.
Golub discouraged shoppers from stockpiling certain items and asked customers to be aware of the changes before taking a trip to the supermarket.
“Plan your trips and know what you’re coming in to get so you spend less time at the store,” she said. “If we’re respectful of one another there is plenty to go around.”
Springfield-based Big Y World Class Market temporarily closed on Sunday, April 12 and Monday, April 13 for store-cleaning purposes and to provide their employees with some deserved time off from work.