Local store battles COVID-19

Jodi Bohnen next to depleted shelves at Thrifty Foods.



WHEATLAND – The pandemic has affected all things globally with 174,940 cases of COVID-19 confirmed and 6,687 deaths. Another 5,967 patients are currently in serious or critical condition according to live updates on Worldometer as of March 16.
Here in “your neck of the woods” the pandemic has yet to claim any victims, however, the general public has been taking precautions with the purchase of supplies and foodstuffs. Local stores have seen a run on items such as toilet paper, milk, bread, hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies to name a few.
Thrifty Foods, 702 10th Street in Wheatland has experienced what other grocers and big box stores are facing, but due to the location away from the main corridor, they have kept up with supply and demand.
“We are trying to keep things in stock for our local customers,” said Thrifty Foods manager, Jodi Bohnen. “A lot of people don’t know from out of town that we are here, so they are hitting the stores on 16th Street.”
Bohnen said that so far, the regular customers coming in have been able to have their needs met. One thing that has been in the minds of everyone is the fact that this is not a weekend storm or the hours before and after a disaster, but it is an ongoing threat that the CDC says will not go away anytime soon without an antivirus or until the virus is contained and has run its course.
“I do have some stashes set aside for those really in need,” Bohnen said, “and I know that our community will help each other when needed.”
Bohnen also said that they’ve been getting some information from their warehouse stating that people who have noticed that when supplies of hand sanitizer are not readily accessible, they are turning to products which may include vinegar and cleaning supplies that would be secondary options.
“We do have some vinegar in stock,” Bohnen said, “but that’s being wiped out too.”
As for the staples, Bohnen said, “People have been buying bread and freezing it because of the canned goods starting to get low.”
Attitudes in the small community of Wheatland have been cautious, but helpful to others, and workers in the grocery industry, warehouses and suppliers have been inundated.
“Our sales have been three to four times as much as normal,” Bohnen said. “We are just trying to keep up, to keep the shelves stocked as well as keeping people moving through the lines.  I’m also taking precautions with my employees to keep them healthy, so we are going to help them get some health supplements, oranges and things like that so they can stay healthy and we can stay open as much as possible.”
Should COVID-19 hit this area hard, Bohnen said that there are some ideas being generated to help the community.
“If it hits this area,” she said, “we are thinking about doing some type of delivery service to those that need it. Perhaps like dropping off groceries at their doorstep.”
In some areas of the country where COVID-19 has hit hardest, the stores that remain open have taken precautions to stay open and also try to keep their employees healthy. They, as well as many civil servants have been on the front lines of the battle and the battle has been fierce.
USPS employee Tracy Beyer who carries mail in Michigan posted a meme that said, “How does it feel to be a mail carrier during this Carona virus pandemic? Remember when the Titanic was sinking and the band continued to play? Well, that’s us.”
At Thrifty Foods one of the precautions that Bohnen has at the ready are masks and gloves for her employees.
“I’ve got all of my employees, especially the ones that prepare food, basically I have the highest standards of safety set for them,” she said. “I told them to act like our health inspector is looking over your shoulder.”
Thrifty Foods also has a good relationship with local vendors who have been helping to provide extra deliveries.  One such vendor is the milk supplier.
“We have a good relationship with our Meadow Gold provider,” Bohnen commented, “and although our shelves were wiped out yesterday, today they were able to bring in what they had in their back stock to put some milk on our shelves.”
A crisis of this magnitude is relatively new to everyone on the planet. There are new challenges and perplexities that have never been encountered.
Bohnen offered some wisdom concerning the community of Wheatland and commented, “It’s been really busy and I can tell that people are just really amped up and nervous, and I would just say that we as a community help each other out. Don’t get too nervous or too anxious because someone will help you out, whether it’s the store or people in the community. We are here to help each other out.”
You can follow Thrifty Foods at Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/pg/Thriftyfoodsstore/about/

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