It was a scene from an apocalyptic zombie movie with grocery stores across the city being emptied out in response to the recent coronavirus pandemic scare sweeping across the nation. Large crowds rushed the local neighborhood Trader Joes, located at 8611 Santa Monica Boulevard in the heart of West Hollywood and emptied out most of its shelves by mid-afternoon in anticipation of self-isolation during the coronavirus (CODIC-19) pandemic.
According to a TJ employee, the first essential items to go were water and toilet paper, followed by the frozen foods section, which was mostly empty before mid day. “It’s crazy what’s happening here,” he said. “People are standing in long lines all day. It’s a real trip seeing people grab stuff that people are leaving behind while they stand in line. People are purchasing items that they didn’t plan on purchasing when they walked in. At least we’re learning what people like in our store.”
“I came in to buy a simple salad for lunch and something to have for dinner, but I got wrapped up in the panic and now have a basket full of stuff,” said one TJ’s customer named Ellen. “I’ve never seen anything like this. For the first time it’s really hitting home that coronavirus is real and I’m beginning to feel scared. I don’t know what I’ll do if they decide to close all the grocery stores. I probably have food to last me a week. Then what?”
The lines were long with shopping carts full of Trader Joe’s goods. Customers are stocking up on canned goods and dry food such as pastas and oatmeal, while another customer had a cart full of wine. One customer was seen wearing latex gloves and a protective mask while she did her shopping. The lines took upwards of 30 minutes to get checked out. For the most part the employees are efficient. Every register was open in mid afternoon.
A call to the same Trader Joe’s location this morning reveals that employees anticipate the same mayhem they have experienced in the past few days. “Today is not going to get any better,” said the crew member who answered the phone. “We are replenishing as much as we can, but as soon as we put things out, things are gone. Today is pretty much going to be the same as yesterday with people rushing in as soon as we open the doors.”
Trader Joe’s released the following statement regarding its response to the coronavirus pandemic.
To Our Valued Customers:
As the coronavirus COVID-19 affects our communities, our work as your neighborhood grocery store continues. We are vigilant; heeding all federal, state and local health advisories; and where it makes sense, adjusting efforts to safeguard the health and safety of our Crew Members and customers. To date, we have taken the following precautionary measures:
Continued Communication: We are closely monitoring the situation, and regularly providing all of our stores and Crew Members with the most up-to-date safety guidance, as recommended by the CDC and other health officials.
Offering Additional Paid-for Sick Time to All Crew Members: Crew Members have been asked to exercise increased precautions to safeguard their health and the health of their community, including staying home if they have any symptoms of illness or do not feel well. To better support each Crew Member in making community-minded decisions, we have made available additional paid sick time to all of our Crew Members.
Prioritizing Good Hygiene Practices: We are providing continuous reminders about good hygiene practices and supporting our Crew Members with necessary resources. For instance, ensuring every Crew Member at the registers has the opportunity to regularly wash their hands.
Increasing Routine Cleaning: In line with our longstanding commitment to provide a safe and clean shopping environment, stores have increased the frequency of cleanings, paying close attention to high touch areas such as restrooms, register areas, grocery carts and hand baskets.
Suspending All Food and Beverage Sampling In Store: As this situation has evolved, we have taken increased precautions related to our food and beverage sampling in stores, including our decision to stop the practice until further notice.
There is nothing more important to us than the health and safety of our customers and Crew Members. We will continue to provide information about what steps we are taking to address this rapidly evolving situation.
– Trader Joe’s
For updates on the coronavirus pandemic and information about the current numbers of COVID-19 cases in the United States and in Los Angeles County, the spread of the virus, severity, treatments, precautions, and other important public health information in multiple languages, please visit the following websites:
Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) www.publichealth.lacounty.gov/media/Coronavirus
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)