Page 9 - Summer 2020
P. 9

Pandemic Impacts on Oryana
How We Responded To The Coronavirus
How do we re ect on a once in a lifetime, or even once in a century event that has completely taken over all our lives? Due to the new reality of the coronavirus pandemic, life at the co-op these last few months, like everywhere else, has been interesting, challenging, and quite di cult at times. We have done our best to navigate the swi ly changing directives — sometimes literally from minute to minute — from our government and adapt as an “essential service.” Never did we dream that grocery store workers would be considered essential workers. We always knew that our sta  was terri c but the current situation has only con rmed
just how hardworking they are. It has been very stressful
for them, especially in the beginning of the quarantine
stage, when we were still  guring out how to keep everyone safe and coming up with best practices for cleanliness and storewide safety. But they rose to the challenge admirably. So, hats o  to all our sta  for continuing to work with a smile and friendly a itude, all while wearing a mask and frequently using hand sanitizer.
We have all aquired a new lexicon of terms since the beginning of March:  a ening the curve, social distancing, Hydroxychloroquine, PPE, self quarantine, self isolation, Covid-19, just to name a few. The social distancing requirement was especially hard at  rst since Oryana is a place where the community comes to visit and socialize. It just didn’t feel right not being able to chat and visit with your neighbors and friends.
What used to be an unusual sight, people wearing face masks outside of a healthcare se ing, is now the new norm. On April 27, the state mandate speci ed that all shoppers were required to wear a face mask, unless a medical condition precluded it. This was a relief to many shoppers and sta , and a source of irritation to others. In spite of our best e orts to ensure all shoppers wore masks, some opted not to, which led to some uncomfortable and occasionally hostile interactions. But by far the majority were in support of mask wearing. The community also stepped up by donating homemade masks that we o ered to shoppers who didn’t have one.
We were forced to cancel our cooking classes and other events, and as the newsle er is going to press, we are still not certain when we will be able to hold classes and events again. We even had to cancel the General Ownership Meeting in April, a  rst in Oryana’s history. We did have a virtual meeting in June but we missed seeing all your faces
in person and catching up and enjoying a meal together. Our ‘back of the house’ work changed as well. Even though our o ces are right next to each other, we are conducting our meetings via the now-popular zoom app, to help us maintain our distance. This has actually been helpful since we acquired Lucky’s and now need to hold meetings with the sta  there as well.
When the news of the pandemic and possible extended quarantine hit the news, shoppers reacted in a panic. They  lled their carts to the brim and emptied the shelves of many staple products. A normal ‘market basket’ or average amount that shoppers spend per shopping trip is around $35, but this  gure jumped to $80 in March. We encouraged and customers concurred: shop less o en and limit the number of family shoppers to one. Like other stores nationwide, we couldn’t keep toilet paper in stock. The next hot products that  ew o  the shelves were  our and baking yeast. Lots of folks decided to try their hand at bread baking and sourdough bread became a national focus. Due to the extreme shopping habits of customers and the need to ensure cleanliness, we reduced our store hours to give sta  time to restock and adequately sanitize at the beginning and end of each day. We also wanted to accommodate our seniors and anyone with compromised health by o ering them an exclusive time to shop, the  rst hour of every day.
It became quickly evident that we needed to o er a shopping service for customers who did not want to venture out, so within a week’s time, we devised our successful curbside shopping service. On a very busy curbside day, we  lled up to 90 orders. Since the cafe was closed (10th St.) we dedicated the entire space to curbside e orts. It also worked out well that we were able to redirect kitchen and cafe sta  to curbside shopping duties. As of this newsle er printing, we do not know how long this service will last, but we will continue it for as long as it is needed. As much as we missed our hot bar, co ee bar, and made to order service, we were happy to be able to repurpose the space for this much needed service.
On May 19 the newest executive order stated that restaurants could re-open but only at 50% capacity and with safety measures in place. While some businesses jumped at the chance to open immediately, a er carefully evaluating the safety of our sta  and customers, our 10th and West cafes continue to safely adapt their services as they slowly reopen.

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