West’s Country Mart and Zey’s Market in Abilene have become especially busy with shoppers in the past few weeks due to the COVID-19 panic. Country Mart and Zey’s both have had difficulties with keeping shelves completely supplied.

“We have had some trouble keeping our shelves stocked. Our supplier did not have enough employees to fill the orders that grocery stores across the nation were sending them,” said Chris West at West’s Country Mart. “Items that we could not get through our warehouse, I tried other vendors and tried to keep items I knew our customers would need. Many of those items came at a higher cost to me so, of course, our retail reflected that.”

Vicki Zey at Zey’s Market agreed that many of their orders were not being filled because the supplier was having trouble getting products as well. They began running out of toilet paper, dried rice, canned goods, and much more.

Country Mart has reported that toilet paper was the most depleted from the shelves. They even began implementing a limit of one package per customer.

“This week we should start filling our shelves up again,” West said. “Our deliveries are finally starting to get larger and we are able to order more product with each order. For the last few weeks, we have been allocated a certain number of items per delivery. That number is finally going up.”

Hopefully the amount of panic buying can decrease so many products and supplies will be available to all of those who need it.

Hoarding

There is no need to hoard supplies or buy months’ worth of food in preparation for an ‘apocalypse,’ the store operators say. Many supplies will continue to be available through this affliction, as long as the community thinks of others during this time.

“We will not ever run out of products. As I said before, if we have to try to ‘hunt’ products down from another supplier, it may cost more, but we will always try to have items for our customers,” West said. “Beef was one of the items a lot of stores were running out of. Their shelves were empty. I made a few phone calls to Kohman Meats and Kevin Morgan, who both sell beef, and they kept our shelves full.”

As a result of the stay at home order placed last Monday for Dickinson County, many of the excessive shopping began to subside.

Zey said that before the order, the store was affected heavily by the amount of shopping being done. Since then, it has become less busy inside the store with the use of call-in orders for curbside pick-up, she said.

Many people are using this to their advantage to practice good social distancing.

In addition, Country Mart offers an online shopping service for customers to pick up orders or have them delivered.

Zey’s has a free curbside pickup program. The store is taking orders from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Customers can pick up their groceries and pay for them at the curb.

“Our delivery and pickup service has more than doubled. There are many ‘new’ online shopping customers now,” West said.

Due to the amount of people in stores and the rapid spread of disease, Country Mart is doing everything they can to keep the store sanitized.

“We are constantly wiping down the registers, pin-pads, cooler handles, bathroom handles, etc. We also have Kelly Cooper from Kansas Clean Air come in and sanitize all our shopping carts, hand baskets, and registers to try and keep it clean,” West said.

Zey’s Market is also taking sanitary precautions.

The grocery stores in Abilene say they are determined to keep shelves stocked, stores clean, and customers happy in this time of uncertainty.

Contact Rebecca Scheller at reporter2@abilene-rc.com.

Contact Tim Horan at editor@abilene-rc.com.

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