Northern NV consumers urged to shop responsibly at local grocery stores |

Northern NV consumers urged to shop responsibly at local grocery stores

Steve Ranson

Nevada News Group

Bryan Wachter is head of the Retail Association of Nevada.
Photo: Cathleen Allison / Nevada Momentum | Nevada Momentum

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,” Bryan Wachter, senior vice president of government and public affairs, said in an interview Friday. “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.

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

On Saturday, Raley’s rolled out 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 a $35 option contains ready-to-eat meals. On Sunday, Raley’s opened up 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 and Northern Nevada, including several in Reno and one each in Carson City, Gardnerville, Yerington and Fernley. Store opening and closing hours depend on location.

Walmart Supercenters, with several stores throughout Reno, Carson City, Douglas County, Fernley and Fallon, trimmed hours last week to 7 a.m.-8:30 p.m.

Through April 28 on Tuesdays, Walmart will have shopping for people 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.

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.

Smith’s, with a handful of stores in Northern Nevada, will dedicate the first hours on Mondays, Wednesdays and Friday from 7-8 a.m. until further notice for seniors. The normal hours are 8 a.m. 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.

Costco has hours for members 60 years of age and older and those with with physical disabilities from 8-9 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Only members who meet the criteria will be allowed to shop during those hours. No guests will be allowed in.

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 four in Reno and three more 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.

Other grocers, such as Trader Joe’s, Grocery Outlet and Safeway also have implemented similar restrictions and senior allowances.

“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,” Vivek Sankaran, president and CEO of Albertsons Companies, the parent company of Safeway,. “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.”