Happy Foods dealing with ‘new normal’
by JASON MEREL
The life of a local grocer is obviously much different during a pandemic.
Sheets of plexiglass installed at every cashier station to protect customers and staff, curbside pick-up options, shortages of disinfectant and price fluctuations are all a part of the "new normal" at Happy Foods-Edgebrook, 6415 N. Central Ave.
Owner Barbara Eastman said that the store is doing what it can to accommodate customers.
"We don’t have an online platform but people can call or e-mail," Eastman said. "We’re trying to help people any way we can."
Paper products, disinfectant and cleaners are in high demand and go quickly, she said. Distributors of hand sanitizer and disinfectant are currently routing all supplies to hospitals and senior care facilities to help combat the spread of COVID-19. She said those products would be available again at the end of April or early May.
Eastman said she hopes people understand that prices on some commodities fluctuate depending on supply and demand but that price gouging is not a good image for a local business. There have been reports of some stores charging as much as $45 for a single chicken.
"There’s always bad apples," Eastman said. "But people remember that."
Eastman said a few other areas of the store have been seeing higher demand.
"The soup aisle gets decimated and people are baking. They say they’re eating at home and now they’re not going to tee-ball, they’re not going to ballet class. Over-scheduling is done. It’s just a different mindset now."
Eastman said she sees how the crisis is bringing out the good in the community. Customers recently dropped off a supply of masks for the staff, she said.
"And last Saturday, two customers wanted to support local and they went to Chris’ (Edgebrook) Coffee Shop and bought the whole staff a hot lunch," Eastman said. "It was great to see them supporting two local businesses at once."
The store is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. everyday.
Eastman said so far they have had no issues with employee illness but they have been maintaining social distancing and sanitizing.
"The 6-foot rule is very easy in our store," Eastman said. "The tiles are exactly one foot by one foot so all you have to do is stand six tiles away and you’re okay."