Grocer: Moab will survive

A shopper looks longingly at a sparse resource in Moab: Toilet paper. Photo by Doug McMurdo

Cameron says Moab has shown kindness, strength; limits placed on certain purchases

The bedlam that was City Market on Monday had simmered down to an almost normal day Wednesday for shoppers and staff at Moab’s largest grocery store. Panic buying caused toilet paper and hand sanitizer to vanish followed by all manner of food items. Over by the pharmacy, shelves that until recently offered abundant choices for pain relief were empty.

“Monday was insane; it’s calmed down a lot,” said store Manager Brendon Cameron, who, coincidentally, has spent the past several days focusing on “calming folks down.”

Two employees at a time spend their shifts sanitizing surfaces people touch, such as the handles on the freezer doors. Every 15 minutes Cameron gets on the public address system and reminds people to practice social distancing. To try to stay six feet apart.

He also alerts them to purchasing restrictions the store has implemented.

Shoppers are now and for the immediate future limited to one package of toilet paper, carton of eggs, container of milk or loaf of bread, he said. He also wants people to know two truckloads of goods are coming in every night.

“It’s hit or miss” if what they bring is what is needed, he said. Other items are limited to three per customer, but which items are identified for restrictions is a moving target.

Cameron’s overall message is one of optimism.

“First, thank you to our customers, for your understanding and patience,” he said. “I want you to know we’re going to get through this.”

Cameron said he has seen how strong the community has proven to be. “I’ve seen people supporting each other,” he said. “I’ve seen the neatest things. I’ve seen people buying things for neighbors and shopping for the elderly. I’ve seen people caring for each other. That’s what this community is all about. We’re all going to be taken care of.

Cameron also encourages customers to take seriously COVID-19. “Take to heart what the health department is saying. We’re following their guidelines.”

Cameron and some of his employees have delivered groceries to elderly residents and others at risk of potentially fatal complications should they be infected with the virus. Also, effective Friday, March 20, City Market set aside the first shopping hour on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m., exclusively to the shopping needs of senior citizens.

“I’ve been doing this for … 15 years and have never done anything like this and hope I never see it again.”