Food Stores Adopt Novel Approaches, Special Hours, To Meet Demand In Uncertain Times - 27 East

Food Stores Adopt Novel Approaches, Special Hours, To Meet Demand In Uncertain Times

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Customers wait in line to place orders at Justin's Chop Shop in Westhampton Beach on Friday. DANA SHAW

Customers wait in line to place orders at Justin's Chop Shop in Westhampton Beach on Friday. DANA SHAW

Asa Gosman serves customers form a makeshift retail seafood stand at Gosman’s Fish Market in Montauk on Sunday.    GAVIN MENU

Asa Gosman serves customers form a makeshift retail seafood stand at Gosman’s Fish Market in Montauk on Sunday. GAVIN MENU

Seniors wait in line during special shopping hours at the Amagansett IGA.  KITTY MERRILL

Seniors wait in line during special shopping hours at the Amagansett IGA. KITTY MERRILL

Seniors wait in line during special shopping hours at the Amagansett IGA.  KITTY MERRILL

Seniors wait in line during special shopping hours at the Amagansett IGA. KITTY MERRILL

Seniors wait in line during special shopping hours at the Amagansett IGA. KITTY MERRILL

Seniors wait in line during special shopping hours at the Amagansett IGA. KITTY MERRILL

authorStephen J. Kotz on Mar 24, 2020

Although grocery stores are among the businesses allowed to stay open under Governor Andrew Cuomo’s March 20 order seeking to corral the fast-spreading novel coronavirus, it’s been anything but business as usual across the East End.

In East Hampton, at the One-Stop Market on Springs-Fireplace Road, a popular destination for breakfast and lunch orders that also stocks a wide variety of necessities, the doors were closed on Friday — but the store was very much open.

“We’re doing this to protect our employees and protect our customers,” said Erin Field, one of the store’s owners, who, with clerk Kristy Schooper, was waiting on customers from behind a folding table blocking the entrance.

Customers asked for things like a large coffee, regular, or a 12-pack of Bud, and Ms. Field or one of her employees wrote down the order, accepted payment, and ran into the store to gather the necessary items.

Most people are understanding, Ms. Field said. “Everybody is just trying to get used to it, but they know we are trying to prevent the spread of the virus.”

Grocery stores that were slammed with mobs of customers hoarding everything from fresh chicken to toilet paper earlier in the month have seen some modicum of normalcy in recent days, as they have adjusted their hours and, in some cases, set up special shopping times for seniors, or limited the number of people allowed to enter their stores at a time.

Stop and Shop, which has stores in East Hampton, Southampton and Hampton Bays, has reserved its first 90 minutes of business each day — from 6 to 7:30 a.m. — for senior citizens. Regular hours are from 7:30 to 8 p.m.

King Kullen, which has stores in Bridgehampton and Hampton Bays, is operating on a reduced schedule, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The store has not set aside separate hours for senior citizens, but staff members said things had calmed down considerably since the initial run, with most shelves fairly well stocked in the Bridgehampton store on Monday morning.

The East Hampton IGA is currently open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., with a special hour of shopping set aside for seniors and first responders, from 7 to 8 a.m. The store is rationing all supplies, limiting customers to two of each item.

Schiavoni’s IGA in Sag Harbor remains open from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. The store has reserved the first hour of business, from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m., on Mondays and Thursdays for senior citizens. It has asked that all customers use the rear entrance and is allowing only 20 people in the store at any one time.

The scene at Citarella’s in Bridgehampton was orderly Monday morning, with all employees wearing masks and customers asked to keep a proper distance in the checkout lines.

Customers of all stores should ask about return policies before checking out because many stores, citing concerns about the coronavirus, have adopted a no-return or exchange policy to help prevent its spread.

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