EVERETT — Please don’t squeeze the avocados. Or the Charmin.
And stay in your lane, dude.
The once casual act of grocery shopping is now a matter of life and bread.
The state Department of Health advises: “Shop with a list and like you mean business. The less time you are in there, the better.”
To ensure proper social distancing, stores now limit the number of people inside at a time and want you to keep moving. No more mulling over whether to spend 11 cents more on the name brand over the store label. Grab what you need.
Don’t touch items unnecessarily. That means not picking up apples, tomatoes and other produce to select that perfect one. Handpick with your eyes instead.
Safeway/Albertsons and QFC are among stores implementing one-way aisles to keep traffic moving and limit face-to-face interaction. Green arrows mark the floor for the correct way. Red markings warn those steering wayward carts.
Be patient. Be nice. Thank the store workers for being there. As one writer put it: Leave your “cranky pants” behind.
Costco recently started allowing priority access to healthcare workers and first responders to move to the front of any line to enter the warehouse.
Costco, as with many stores, has reduced hours, closing at 6:30 p.m. daily and 6 p.m. on Sunday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests everyone wear a mask and gloves in public. In some cities, it is mandatory that grocery workers and shoppers wear a mask or face covering.
This is intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19 from those who are infected but don’t realize it because they aren’t showing symptoms.
Even with Plexiglas sneeze shields, grocery store workers on the frontlines are exposed to crowds of people every day. A growing number are getting infected. The Everett Trader Joe’s closed several days last week after more than one employee tested positive for COVID-19.
There is a fringe benefit to donning a mask and gloves while shopping: No worries about your makeup or nails. Or, for that matter, your hair. Nobody will recognize you anyway, now that you have a self-styled mullet like “Tiger King” Joe Exotic.
It’s OK to show up in your pajamas.
This makes it easier if you’re a senior or pregnant. Many stores have special pre-opening shopping hours for those at-risk. The catch is that you have to get up early.
For others, the health department suggests: “Shop at less popular times when the stores will be less crowded.”
Stores have stepped up cleaning measures, disinfecting cart handles and frequently touched surfaces.
To minimize exposure, send a designated shopper. Leave the family at home. Look at it this way: This is your chance to get away from them. And vice-versa.
A new policy at Costco lets in only two people per membership. Think how much that will save your family, but make sure to send one with the wherewithal to get a 60-count box of Rice Krispies Treats.
Those are gold during Netflix binges.
Don’t hoard, but stock up. Limit the number of times you go to a grocery store to once a week or even less frequently, the health department says. Use sanitizer after handling money, and clean hands thoroughly when you get home.
Wash your reusable bag or leave it in the car. Some stores don’t allow them, and at those that do, customers who bring sacks from home must bag their own groceries.
Order online and get your groceries delivered to your car. QFC now has free pickup. Reserve a time a few days in advance. Spaces fill up fast.
The precautions are on both sides of the Plexiglas.
Walmart is sending infrared thermometers to take the temperature of workers at the start of shifts. The store will not take temperatures of customers.
Home Depot is distributing thermometers to stores for workers to perform health checks before clocking on.
Stores are hiring. Many have tacked on $2 an hour increases.
Rite Aid offers employees a 35% shopping discount.
Mom and pop shops
Brier Grocery got lucky selling two winning lottery tickets last year.
The luck continues, but in a different way.
The neighborhood market, 23607 Brier Road, relies on local trade and with people staying home it has kept business steady enough.
“A lot of our clientele don’t want to go to the big stores,” said Charlie Andrade, who works at the family-owned store. “People are trying to be active, they’re out walking around as opposed to driving around.”
Brier, population 6,300, is on the byroads with Mountlake Terrace to the west, Lynnwood to the north, Bothell to the east and Lake Forest Park to the south. For some people in the small community, the trip to the store is their only human contact with the outside world.
Andrade’s parents, Sunnie and Victor, bought the store in 1981. His dad passed away in 2018. Before COVID-19, he and his sister, Anna, worked part-time, and his mom and aunt ran the store. Now the younger generation puts in long hours.
“They are older and we don’t want them to be around the store as much. My cousin is picking up shifts for his mom,” Andrade said.
His mom didn’t even take a day off last July, when the store received a $122,000 bonus for selling a winning $12.2 million state Lotto ticket. A month later, a ticket sold by the store won the Hit 5 jackpot of $120,000. The store got $1,200.
His mom stayed at it. Only a pandemic slowed down her hours.
She installed a Plexiglas shield early on, “before the big stores did,” Andrade said.
The store does not offer curbside pickup or home delivery. Lottery tickets must be purchased in-person.
“The same people are still coming in every day for lottery tickets,” he said. “Every once in a while we get the stray guy who comes over here and says, ‘Hey, I hear you sold a winning lotto ticket.’ ”
With schools closed, more kids come in for candy and energy drinks.
“It’s more of a summer vibe,” Andrade said.