As promised, we continue to adjust with the times, as restrictions are eased and needs change. We appreciate you following along and adjusting your own habits as we modify our hours, our department offerings, and more. It is hard to continually adapt ourselves to new situations, but that is part of what we need to do in this most unusual time.
So, as you probably know by now, we have taken bold steps to gradually reopen the Deli and foodservice offerings. Although we don’t have everything, we have started with some of the most popular selections in the sandwich bar, the entrée cases, and other prepared foods such as the rotisserie chickens. We are also rolling out lots and lots of grab and go meals, from Thai Tofu and Sesame Noodles to heat-and-eat meals for two, now that some folks are needing a break from cooking! Be sure to browse the Deli options, including the grab-and-go wall case and the island case. There are lots of delicious surprises, new ones every day to take notice of.
As mentioned, our capable kitchen and deli counter staff have largely enabled us to offer a robust curbside schedule up until now. But those folks are redeploying in their home departments, with all the preparation, production, and service that our Deli requires.
We also have had lots of suggestions about opening more hours for walk-in shopping, and obviously, with more people out and about, we need to have more hours to spread those folks out safely in the store.
So, for both of those reasons—food service and new open hours—our curbside ordering hours are now 7 a.m. to 10 a.m., and we are delivering those pickup orders to the curb the following morning. We are doing this for two reasons: we are juggling staff to service those curbside orders as well as staffing the store which now includes the Deli, so we are challenged with ensuring that everyone gets the best service possible. We also need refrigerated space to stage the curbside orders, a bigger hurdle now that the Deli is open and utilizing all of its refrigeration. Having curbside picked up the following day allows us to ensure that we get all of the work done, and that we have room to store and stage the food. In addition, we are preparing to launch our online order platform, which also needs some backstage work to have orders ready, so we will be adding this option to curbside ordering for next day pickup. This should increase access to curbside, as we add this method of shopping.
We know that this ever-changing landscape is stressful, so we apologize for that. Still, it seems to be working well for all concerned so far, so we are hopeful that we will be able to continue along this path for a bit. If the situation continues to improve, we will address changes as we need to, so please pay attention! I want to stress that we will continue to offer curbside throughout, to support those who do not feel comfortable coming into the store, or who do not wish to wear the personal protective gear that we have asked shoppers to don while inside the store. We always planned to have online ordering and pickup someday, so one benefit of this crazy and stressful pandemic is that we have rushed that option into play, along with a better understanding of all the dependencies to make that system work. Hopefully, we will continue to improve our services to you, and you will continue to see all of the ways that your Co-op makes a positive difference in your life.
Speaking of changes, we are relocating all of the pre-bagged and boxed Bulk product onto shelving for easier access. We will continue to offer service Bulk for the products that require multiple touchpoints, but hope to have the rest more easily accessible to you. Sadly, it seems that we will have to continue largely packaging Bulk for the foreseeable future, so we will at least do what we can to make it easier and safer for you to shop that department. We are providing preorder service once again, in the Bulk department and throughout the store, as it seems that the supply lines have eased up, as expected, and preordered items are coming in much better now.
We will continue to evaluate our business as we budget and plan for the coming year, currently in process. We will try to keep you informed as we modify and adjust to what I believe will be a different environment in the future, regardless of the timing of vaccines and the like. Our management team is doing amazing work with precious little information or experience in anything resembling this situation, in an attempt to position your Co-op for its future existence. Bear with us, and stay in touch.
I’ll see you on the curb, or in the aisles!
By Sabine Rhyne, General Manager