FOLEY, Alabama — Amid concerns of the Covid-19 virus, also known as the Coronavirus outbreak nationwide, grocery stores throughout Baldwin County are working hard to keep the shelves stocked for their customers.
“This is unprecedented for us,” said Howard Harper with Greer’s. As Regional manager, Harper oversees five stores in Mobile, three stores in Florida, including two in Pensacola, and Greer’s Robertsdale location, where his wife, Donna is manager. “I just want to commend all of our employees who have been working overtime seven days a week to help our customers.”
Things were starting to slow down a little bit on Tuesday at the Robertsdale store, Donna Harper said with supplies low particularly of paper products, meat and frozen food items.
A shipment of bread arrived while in the store and Howard Harper extra supplies were being delivered in addition to the store’s regular deliveries.
“We’re seeing issues with our warehouse keeping up with the demand,” Donna Harper said. “As long as that happens, we’re going to have to work harder to keep up.”
Greer’s also maintains stores in Fairhope and Bay Minette, while the Fairhope store has decided to close early, the Robertsdale store remains open until 9, he said.
Howard Harper said while they have asked their customers to limit themselves on things like paper products, “we’re not going to force anybody to put items back.”
Unlike hurricanes where supplies are limited to non-perishable items, Harper said, more people are buying up things like frozen foods and meat products.
“They know that they are not going to lose power,” he said, “so they are buying a lot of things they wouldn’t normally buy during a hurricane.”
Like Greer’s, Tra Wiggins, manager of the Piggly Wiggly store in Foley, commended his employees for working overtime to keep up with the demand.
“We’re short-staffed right now, but the employees that we have are really stepping up to keep the shelves stocked,” he said. “We’re a small store and our owner realty goes above and beyond to serve the customer rather than look to the bottom line.”
Wiggins said the store has been getting in shipments nearly every day since the crisis began.
At Winn-Dixie in Foley, things have not slowed down at all, said the store’s manager, who asked not to be identified.
“We were busier yesterday than we were over the weekend,” he said. “There’s just no end in sight, but we’re going to continue to provide our customers with the best service possible.”
He said the problem he sees by and large is that the supplier is currently unable to keep up with the demand.
“If you have a supplier with 100 cases of toilet paper delivering to 100 stores, then you’re only going to get one case,” he said, adding that the store currently is unable to secure items like hand sanitizer.
At Walmart in Robertsdale, shelves were empty of toilet paper while other items such as bread, meat and frozen foods were available in limited supply. Store hours have been limited to 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Inquiries in the store were referred to corporate media relations and no photos were allowed inside the store.
While access was limited at Rouses and Publix in Gulf Shores, those stores seemed to be better stocked on most items. Inquiries at both stores were also referred to corporate media relations.