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Four essential businesses cope amidst pandemic

Fresh Choice grocery store butcher stocks the shelves daily with fresh meat.

By Carolyn Marnon – Four Wayne businesses shared how they have continued to serve the community during the Michigan Stay Home, Stay Safe order.
Fresh Choice is the largest grocery store in the City of Wayne. Manager Lydia Pattah says the store has operated continuously during store hours since the pandemic started. She says they are “staying safe, taking more precautions than we normally do, extra sanitation, wearing gloves all the time, wearing masks all the time, pretty much keeping the customer safe and the employees healthy.”
Fresh Choice put up plastic barriers at the checkout counters and taped the front end of the store to keep people the recommended social distance of 6 feet apart.
Although they do not yet have Clorox or Lysol wipes in stock, Lydia says everything else has been successfully stocked throughout the pandemic. She says there were only a few days when they didn’t have toilet paper, the holy grail of shoppers everywhere. She says they now have “tons of it.” The hardest to get item has been yeast, “which is a very odd thing since everyone started baking their own bread. It’s finally started to come in,” said Lydia She also shared that the top selling breads, like white and wheat, along with hamburger and hot dog buns have been easy to get, but the specialty breads have not been as easy to stock.
Northside Hardware, the long-time institution of tools and paint in Wayne and the favorite hardware destination of many, has continued to be open “through the good, the bad and the ugly” owner Sam Yono said.
The biggest challenge at Northside involved getting help to work. “That’s basically about all the challenges we’ve had,” said Sam. He said the plumbing section is staffed by older retirees who didn’t feel comfortable working during the major health scare. With COVID-19 numbers trending down now, those employees are starting to come back to work.
Sam says Northside has taken all the necessary steps to follow the state and government guidelines. There are plexiglass barriers at the checkouts, signs up advising to wear masks, and customers have been offered gloves if they don’t have them when they walk in. Other than that, business has “been about the same, to be honest with you.”

Northside Hardware continues to stock their shelves with essential houshold items.

Sam did say he was unable to get sanitizing sprays as whatever the companies are producing are going to first responders. He has been able to stock hand sanitizers and wipes when they are available and he can get them. As far as anything else goes, “we’ve been in business so long and built a reputation with vendors, not only locally and across the country, they make things accessible to us,” said Sam.
Sam wants to thank all their customers for being patient and understanding. “We thank everybody who supports us through this whole ordeal. We thank everyone for being patient with us through this whole ordeal. We can’t wait to go back to normal.”
K&S Auto did close their doors for the whole month of April. Owner Ray Krull says they didn’t have to close down, but there was a situation with a customer who had been diagnosed with COVID-19. “By law, we could have been open, but we closed because we had a scare,” said Ray. He said nobody got infected because they had been using precautions, but to be on the safe side, staff at this family-owned business quarantined themselves.
Ray allows only one customer in the office at a time. Employees wipe down the cars before working on them. They also wear masks. Other than that, it is business as usual.
The biggest challenge Ray has faced has not been the ability to get the auto supplies and parts he needs. It is the amount of time it takes to get them. “Deliveries are not as quick as they used to be because there are still people off in the delivery system because they make more money staying at home.”
“We were considered an essential business, so we were able to stay open,” said Matt Gietzen, owner of Henry’s Service Center.
“We were affected quite a bit. Our car count was down maybe 40%.” The business has tried to go touchless, utilizing a drop box so people would not have to come into the small waiting area. A shield was installed at the front counter and disinfecting and cleaning has increased. Work is done by appointment only.
Matt says he’s “very cognizant of what’s going on out there (in the waiting area). I try to never have more than one person in my waiting room, preferably no one.”
The guys wear rubber gloves and use seat covers and steering wheel covers before working on cars. They wash their hands often and there are hand sanitizers all around the building. “We’ve been fortunate not to have any issues,” said Matt.
Matt says delivery of auto parts has slowed way down because supply places are having a hard time with drivers right now. Getting supplies, he said, has slowed down from 15 minutes to several hours.
Matt attributes business being down 40% due to many of their older clientele doing the right thing by not going out. “That has affected us a lot,” he said.

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