Grocery stores work to keep shelves stocked

Items might be missing from the shelves but local grocers are working to make shopping as easy as possible for those living in the Buffalo City.

"As long as we're an essential business we will stay open unless the governor tells us to shut down," said Rich Hilgemann, Hugo's Family Marketplace manager. "We just want people to know we're here for them and we'll do what we can to fill their pantries."

Grocery stores, along with hospitals, pharmacies and gas stations are considered "essential" in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. These businesses will remain open to serve the state's population. All three of Jamestown's main grocery suppliers - Hugo's, Cash Wise Foods and Walmart- have remained open.

While people are still able to visit the grocery store to restock the refrigerator and cabinets, local shoppers may notice some changes due to the supply and demand chain.

"We do have extra demand and it's a matter of whether we can get the product or not," Hilgemann said. "Right now toilet paper and eggs are the big ones. We are limited on what we can get but we're doing the best we can trying to keep the shelves as full as we can. Right now we have limits on hamburger, eggs, bread and sanitation wipes. Limits on some things are one (package per shopper) some things are two."


Down the road, Cash Wise is dealing with similar demands. CEO Chris Coborn said that at this time his company has put limits on high demand items such as paper products, eggs and milk. The corporate order pertains to all Cash Wise suppliers across the state. Coborn and Hilgemann said Cash Wise and Hugo's hours of operations have also been adjusted to ensure the health of all shoppers and suppliers.

"Our Cash Wise store in Jamestown has adjusted their hours to 7:00 a.m.–10:00 p.m.," Coborn said via email. "These revised hours allow our employees the necessary time to clean, sanitize and restock our shelves. We are inviting those guests who are most at risk for this illness to shop with us during the first hour of each day."

Coborn said customers aged 60 or older and those with an underlying health condition are amongst those most susceptible to the infectious virus. Expectant mothers and those with disabilities are also vulnerable to large quantities of shoppers, according to Coborn.

Hugo's has adjusted hours from 6 a.m. - 10 p.m. Monday-Saturday. The store is open 8 a.m.-8 p.m. on Sunday. Hilgemann said early morning shopping for vulnerable patrons is scheduled from 6-7:30 a.m.

"The early morning shopping time was to help the people who have immune system deficiencies and the elderly so they can get in before everybody else does," Hilgemann said. "The reason for shortening the other hours is it just gives us more time to do some more cleaning, sanitizing, stocking more items while we're closed rather than when we're open."

At this time in an effort to promote cleanliness, Cash Wise staff are encouraging customers to refrain from using reusable bags while Hugo's has suspended the use of the reusable bags altogether until the worst of the coronavirus has passed. Hilgemann said patrons have also been shopping from home to limit the spread of the virus.

"The thing that has picked up a lot has been our delivery service and our online ordering," Hilgemann said. "We've always done it but now that people are more aware of (COVID-19) and are trying to get away from the crowding we've had a lot more increase in demand."

The pandemic has disrupted routines but Hilgemann said his store is trying to create as much "normal" as possible.


"Store operations are running like they were (and) we're holding prices steady," Hilgemann said.

A call to Jamestown Walmart for comment was referred to Walmart's corporate office which was not returned.

Gerber is a sports writer for the Jamestown Sun.
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