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Business is not as usual

Business is not as usual
Business is not as usual
Alice Rieff, manager of Maxine’s Market in Milltown, speaks with a customer on the phone Friday. Photo by Stephanie Taylor Ferriell
By Stephanie Taylor Ferriell, Senior Staff Writer, [email protected]

It’s certainly not business as usual at any local establishment fortunate enough to still be open and operating. All but those businesses deemed essential have been ordered closed by Gov. Eric Holcomb to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Most businesses that remain open have shortened their hours, are having difficulty getting stock and say the coronavirus has had an impact on their operations.

Alice Rieff, the manager at Maxine’s Market in Milltown, said the store has had to limit the number of some items customers can purchase such as toilet paper, eggs, water and sanitizing products.

“I got an order in Friday and only got half of what I ordered,” she said. “Frito Lay is no longer delivering because of coronavirus.”

Rieff said hamburgers is a top seller at the store.

“Nobody else has meat,” she said. “We had to limit it to two pounds per household. We ran out a few times.”

Maxine’s has reduced its hours, opening an hour later and closing an hour earlier. The deli does not open until 11 a.m.; previously, it opened when the store did.

Maxine’s Market has been a mainstay in Milltown for many decades. It’s a one-stop shop that tries to meet locals’ needs, carrying a little bit of everything from groceries to household items, hardware and automotive supplies, toiletries and more.

Rieff regrets not always being able to meet a customer’s needs in these trying times.

“I know a lot of customers when they walk through the door. I know what they want; they don’t have to tell me,” she said. “It’s kind of hit hard. I’m used to having everything in the store that people need.”

The store’s employees appreciate their loyal customers.

“I’d like to thank them all for coming out and keeping us in business,” said Rieff.

She noted the store experiences an up-tick in business when Cave Country Canoes opens for the season. That opening has been delayed because of the virus.

“Our little town of Milltown doesn’t have much,” said Rieff. “The canoe rental can’t open, and that hurts us.”

Stephenson’s General Store in Leavenworth is hopeful it will still get some tourism business. Judy Gallina, who owns the store with her husband, Tony, said since state parks remain open, she hopes campers will continue to patronize the store.

Stephenson’s hasn’t had quite the negative impact some other stores have, said Anthony Gallina, who works at the store with his parents.

“We’ve been busy, but it’s different,” he said. “It’s shifted.”

Customers are purchasing groceries, supplies and hardware items at an increased rate. Stephenson’s has had customers from as far away as Louisville. “They know we have meat and eggs and toilet paper,” said Anthony Gallina.

How much each customer can purchase at a time is limited.

Stephenson’s has also experienced shortages in their orders, what Judy Gallina refers to as “glitches in the supply chain.” This past week was a little better than the previous one, so she’s hopeful supply is catching up.

Judy Gallina said the required social distancing is hard on people, especially older residents.

“We would usually have people just come and visit, and they can’t do that now,” she said.

On the other end of the county, Robin Moon, owner of English Hardware, said she has had to be strict with some customers, insisting they follow established guidelines limiting the number of people in the store.

“We try to do our best to encourage them to call and order, and we carry it to their car,” she said.

Moon said some people take offense, believing the store’s employees are insinuating they’re “diseased.”

She said, “I’m trying to protect my staff and everyone else. If one person here gets sick, we’ll have to close; we don’t have another shift to cover us.”

With spring’s arrival, residents are eager to get started on gardening and home improvement projects. They need items from a hardware store and garden center, and Moon is determined to do her best to continue meeting the community’s needs.

“We’re not going to refuse anyone,” she said. “We just need everyone to respect and honor our code. We need to keep this economy moving as best we can. We’re blessed to be able to remain open.”

Moon said the coronavirus pandemic is difficult for everyone, in large part because Americans alive today have never dealt with anything like it.

“This is something we’re going to have to get used to; don’t get angry with the situation,” she said. “How lucky we are to live in the land of plenty.”

“We’re adapting as we need to,” said Judy Gallina. “That’s the key to it. Go with the flow, adapt and try to stay positive.”

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