Reed’s Food Center makes it through surge in buying – “Romaine calm and carry on”

“The Reed’s Center headline takes me back to the good old days when all we had to be afraid of was romaine lettuce. We could all use a little comic relief right now.”

Dayna Larreau, Headline contributor

You know how it goes. A blizzard is in the forecast and everyone runs out to stock up on supplies. For Reed’s Food Center owner John Reed the biggest “blizzard” he has seen in his career in the grocery store industry came on March 13, when the state and local health departments warned Nebraskans that the COVID-19 pandemic was coming and they should “stock up” and stay home.

And they did – well, stocked up at least.

Their main goal was loading up on toilet paper, any kind of disinfectant product, milk and bread.

“The virus was really taking off. When they started issuing what to do, people reacted and got scared. At that time, there was a lot of misinformation going out,” said John.

Some shelves were empty within a few hours. The warehouse exhausted its six-week backup within a week. What came in on Tuesday was gone within an hour on some products.

It got out through social media that the store had a supply of paper products and people came from Gothenburg, Mullen, you name it. An out of state couple came through on their way to Colorado and cleaned the store out of all its flour and sugar and most of the paper products. There was nothing left for the regular customers.

“Had I known the day before, I would have put a limit on certain products. I didn’t realize it would be at that magnitude. I did the next day,” John said.

Basically, there is no food shortage. People are just overbuying and disrupting the supply chain. It’s getting better, but the warehouse is on allocation. John can only get about 60 to 70 percent of what he normally orders, so he has to pick and choose the products he can get. The store’s focus is on basics.

As an essential service, the grocery store maintains its normal hours, with employees working their regular hours. But there’s a “new norm” of wearing gloves, not allowing shoppers to bring in their own bags and sanitizing several times a day. Shield guards are coming soon for the checkout counters. Customers are encouraged to maintain a 6 foot distance and they are doing so as much as possible. They are also encouraged to limit shopping to one person per family.

Some items – such as eggs – are going up in price, almost doubling.

“They predicted that would happen. I haven’t got an answer on why it has. It just boggles my mind,” said John. Beef is also starting to creep up.

“We just appreciate the people understanding that we’re doing everything to the best of our ability. I’m at the mercy of the warehouse. People just have to keep in mind to buy only what they need and remember that there are other people who need the product. Maybe some could share.”

The store has caught up, so the limit on some items has been lifted – except for toilet paper and disinfectants, which are still hot commodities.

“It’s crazy times. I never thought I would see this,” said John.

Romaine calm and carry on“The Reed’s Center headline
takes me back to the good old
days when all we had to be
afraid of was romaine lettuce.
We could all use a little comic relief right now.”
― Dayna Larreau,
Headline contributor

article by: Janet Larreau

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