Stocking the shelves

Melissa Snowden restocks shelves with potato chips on Thursday at Lakeway IGA in Paris. Local grocery stores are continuing to receive supplies but it’s been an extremely busy time for them during the last couple of weeks.

We’ve all heard the stories about grocery stores across the United States being hit hard by customers concerned about the COVID-19 pandemic, with household items such as toilet paper, and basic food items such as meats and bread being whisked away by zealous buyers.

Locally, stores in Paris have seen some of that rush. But they are dealing with it as best they can.

“Unprecedented” is the word used by Jeremy Lindsey, owner/manager of Lakeway IGA in the Lakeway Village Shopping Center about the volume of shopping at his store lately.

“I’ve made a lot of new friends,” he said of the last couple of weeks.

Lindsey said he has actually added some extra staff to work recently, with some former workers coming back to help out during the rush. He said the employees are constantly cleaning the store, wiping down areas frequently.

“But I still would recommend that customers heed all the warnings and keep their social distancing,” he said.

As far as supplies of food and other items, he said he is relying on his supplier, Associated Wholesale Grocers of Nashville, and it makes the decisions on quantities allowed to stores.

“We can only do what our warehouse allows us to do,” Lindsey said. “We get two trucks a week.”

He’s unfortunately having to spread out some of the supplies across his store.

“But the customers have been great. They’ve thanked us for having what we have. A lot of times they’ve been willing to change brands on some items if the brand they want is something we don’t have,” he said.

Lakeway’s hours have not changed. It’s open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays and from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays.

Cash Saver, located at 1301 W. Wood St., also has increased its frequency and monitoring of sanitation procedures.

Barry James, president of Cash Saver, said in a social media post Thursday that the chain’s “buyers and suppliers are working hard to keep in stock the items you need to keep you safe. We are also limiting the purchases of some items in our stores so that supplies may be available to all our customers.”

“I promise that we are doing everything we can to put out the product available to us,” James said in an earlier post. “Supplies will be low. But if we as a community will stick together we can get thru this.”

The Paris Kroger store, at 1059 Mineral Wells Ave., has also seen plenty of bare shelves lately. Chris Langley, the store manager, referred questions to the Kroger corporate office.

Rodney McMullen, CEO of Kroger, which is based in Cincinnati, gave the Cincinnati Enquirer an optimistic message this week, saying there’s plenty of food and other items in the supply chain.

“As long as customers just buy what they need and don’t hoard, there will be no problems at all — there’s plenty of food in the supply chain,” McMullen said.

McMullen urged the public to remember that the grocery business deals in perishable goods and is set up to constantly ship and refill store shelves.

Also, the company operates 37 of its own factories that produce everything from milk and dairy products to maple syrup and canned goods — all of those factories are working overtime and around the clock.

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