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Consumers urged to shop local grocery stores

By Steve Ranson Nevada News Group
Formerly open 24 hours a day, Safeway adjusted its hours from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
Food Stores

A senior vice president of the Retail Association of Nevada is urging the state’s consumers to support their local grocery stores and pharmacy retailers during the COVID-9 virus restrictions.

“If you can stay home, if you can be flexible, that is what our grocery and pharmacy retailers need right now,” said Bryan Wachter, senior vice president of government and public affairs. “Our supply chain is secure, our grocery stores and pharmacies will stay open, and what they need from you now more than ever is to give them room to do what they do best, provide food and medicine for the communities they serve.”

Wachter said if consumers have enough supplies and don’t have to visit a grocery store, then consumers who haven’t been able to complete their shopping or at-risk populations will be able to shop. Additionally, Wachter said many nonessential local businesses will need community support once they reopen. He said closed stores are doing “a huge service” by preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Local markets have adjusted their hours since Gov. Steve Sisolak announced last week the closure of nonessential businesses and urged residents to stay home. Since that time, markets have also set aside time to help senior citizens and others deemed at-risk.

The Fallon Safeway store, which is one of the city’s oldest businesses, changed its around-the-clock hours to 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

Albertsons Companies, which is the parent company of Safeway, said in a press release stores will reserve every Tuesday and Thursday from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. for senior citizens, pregnant women, immunocompromised individuals and other at-risk groups to shop.

“We are sensitive to the fact that everyone wants to make sure they have the items they need, and we also know that everyone wants their neighbors to stay safe and healthy, too,” said Vivek Sankaran, president and CEO. “We are asking our customers to respect these special hours for those who are most at risk in our communities. We thank our customers in advance for their compassion and understanding toward their neighbors and friends, and in helping us maintain this temporary operations guideline.”

Walmart Supercenters, with stores in Carson City, Douglas County, Fernley and Fallon, trimmed its hours two days ago to 7 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Through April 28 on Tuesdays, Walmart will have shopping for senior citizens 60 and older starting one hour before stores open. According to Walmart, the stores are temporarily closing their Auto Care Centers to focus on critical areas of the store. Dacona Smith, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Walmart U.S., wrote in a blog post the stores will have limits on paper products, milk, eggs, cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, water, diapers, wipes, formula and baby food.

Raley’s rolled out on Saturday two unique Senior Essentials Bags available at discounted prices. According to Chelsea Minor, corporate director of Consumer and Public Affairs, these bags can be picked-up curbside or in store.

“We will make every effort to meet demand,” she said in a media release. “We call upon our customers to respect the intended purpose of this program, which is to serve those who are at-risk and need it the most.”

The $20 bag includes a mix of fresh items and pantry staples, while the $35 contains ready-to-eat meals. She said Raley’s opened additional timeslots for pickup and delivery.

“Raley’s recommends that customers place orders at least 48 hours in advance and select ‘allow substitutions’ on all online orders,” she said. “If you are unable to get out of your vehicle, and if we offer pickup at your store, you may park in the designated eCart pickup spot and text the phone number on the eCart pickup spot signage when you arrive. If bags are available, one will be brought out to your vehicle and we will accept cash, check or credit cards outside.”

Minor said with the limited inventory of high-demand items, Raley’s teams are doing their best to complete order requests with substitutions.

Raley’s has a number of stores in western Nevada including one each in Carson City, Gardnerville, Yerington and Fernley. Store opening and closing hours depend on location.

For veterans eligible to shop at the Naval Air Station Fallon commissary, hours are from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The store has temporary halted the early opening time for seniors or individuals with special needs. Certain limits have been placed on goods, and shoppers and family members must show a valid identification card. Guests are not allowed.

The Grocery Outlet store in Carson City and Fernley are  open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., and daily updates are posed to their Facebook pages. The Gardnerville store opens at 7:40 p.m. and closes at 9 p.m.

Likewise, Target announced limits on similar items. In a message to customers, CEO Brian Connell said Target is aware of consumer needs.

“We know that many guests are stocking up on key essentials, and we’re working hard to accommodate this increased demand,” he wrote.

Target’s hours at the Topsy Lane store are 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., and during the first hour of shopping on Wednesdays, seniors and those with underlying health concerns can access the store one hour before the regular opening time.

Smith’s, with three stores in the area, will dedicate the first hours on Mondays, Wednesdays and Friday from 7-8 a.m. until further notice for senior citizens. The normal hours are 8 am to 10 p.m. daily. Check with each store for pharmacy hours.

Smith’s wants to provide those at-risk customers with the ability to purchase the items they need to avoid busier and more crowded shopping times,” said Aubriana Martindale, Smith’s corporate affairs manager.

Martindale also said Smith’s is waiving the pick-up fee at the point of transaction for online orders received curbside for customers 60 years and older through April 18. 

“We activated our preparedness plan several weeks ago, and we continue to monitor the rapidly evolving situation,” said Rodney McMillen, CEO of The Kroger Co., Smith’s parent company. “We’re following guidance from federal, state and local agencies, including the CDC and other health organizations.

Costco, according to its website, has changed hours from 10 a.m. to 8:30 pm. During the weekdays and 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

Craig Jelinek, president and CEO, Costco Wholesale, said changes have been implemented. As a result, he said Costco stores have taken steps to control the number of shoppers, asked that members and employees practice social distancing and reduced some services.

“Limits have been implemented on certain items to help ensure more members are able to access the merchandise they want and need,” he said. “Our buyers and suppliers are working to ensure in-demand merchandise as well as everyday favorites are available in our warehouses.

The Save Mart Companies operates 205 stores throughout California and Northern Nevada including three in the Carson City area under the banners of FoodMaxx, Lucky and Save Mart.

“The Save Mart Companies is committed to sourcing a wide variety of local products to communities throughout California and Northern Nevada,” the company said in a statement.

FoodMaxx operates from 6 a.m. to midnight, and the Save Mart stores are open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. FoodMaxx and Save Mart have set aside every Tuesday and Thursday from 6 am to 9 a.m. for seniors and higher risk populations to shop.

Trader Joe’s has also adjusted hours from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.