‘Perhaps we can eliminate some of the major shortages that we experienced’
by Eric Pereira / Staff Writer
Tommy Smith has owned Main St. Market since 2015 with his wife, Jeanne. The store has been a mainstay of downtown Warrenton, Oregon, for 80 years.
Reflecting on the past year and the COVID-19 pandemic, Smith said he feels there are some caveats to consider when looking at the supply chain in the state.
“I feel like the supply chain will right itself over the next few months, however, having secondary suppliers who can fill in when our warehouse is running short is critical,” he said. “I think a lot of suppliers are going to look at their business differently going forward, and perhaps we can eliminate some of the major shortages that we experienced last year.”
Smith, like so many other grocers across the country, predicts protective barriers will most likely remain at his store’s checkout stands.
“Social distancing and mask wearing will hopefully go away with the reduced infections,” he said. “I would say online ordering, pick-up services and possibly setting up a local delivery service are all things that will take place more quickly as a result of the pandemic.”
Smith said his customers have been very receptive for the most part and have adapted to the safety measures.
“Oregon has had some of the strictest requirements since the beginning,” he added.
Smith predicts Oregon will continue to see increased business in grocery stores as a result of COVID-19.
“People’s habits have changed, and I think they have found that preparing meals at home and having dinner around the table with their family are a good thing,” he said. “Time will tell, but maybe fewer trips to the store with bigger basket rings will be the new normal.”
As a store owner, Smith is most proud of his employees for showing up to work every day with a smile on their faces even when they had fears regarding the coronavirus.
“It was very frustrating at times for them when customers would come into the store and brag about how much they were making on unemployment because of the federal stimulus,” he said. “We were able to pay some additional monies to the employees, however, it was nothing close to the extra $600 they were getting on unemployment.
“We love our employees, and I couldn’t be prouder of how they handled this past year.”
Smith will leave it up to his employees as to whether they get vaccinated. Grocery and food service workers will be eligible for a vaccine no later than May 1, according to a report from Oregon Public Broadcasting.