Malvern Grocer Implements Curbside Pick-up Policy To Combat COVID-19 Coronavirus
Malvern grocer Tom Mulholland knew temporarily closing his store to walk-in customers and implementing an “order ahead, curbside pick-up only” policy would create some challenges and possibly lost revenue, but it was a decision he felt had to be made to protect his family, employees and patrons from possibly being exposed to the COVID-19 coronavirus.
“My wife has had some health issues and it wouldn’t be good if I were to take it (virus) home,” Mulholland said. “I’m out in the public every day - I could easily take it home to her. Over half of my employees are high risk and some of them have been dealing with some minor health issues.”
As of last Wednesday, Mulholland Grocery customers have been asked to order their groceries by e-mail or telephone and then swing by the store at a later time to pick up their order from the safety of their vehicle.
Mulholland gave his regular customers a couple days warning of the new policy so they would have time to come in the store and stock up on the items they needed. That helped keep things manageable once the store was closed to public traffic.
“I knew the first day we closed was going to be slow for different reasons. It’s been a little bit of a learning experience,” Mulholland said. “We had a few goofs, here and there – we had the bags in the cooler/freezer and made a few mistakes, but things have gotten a lot smoother and we are getting many, many more orders.
“We’ve seen orders from people we’ve never heard of before. We have people coming from Mineola, Glenwood and up between Glenwood and Council Bluffs. The first day we had orders from Hastings, Emerson, Randolph, Tabor and Glenwood.”
Customers haven’t complained about the curbside policy and in fact, many have actually thanked Mulholland and his employees for providing a safer way to shop for groceries.
“Our customers are speaking up,” he said. “So many people have commented on the Facebook page or when they’ve placed orders and have said, ‘We sincerely appreciate this. You’re giving us a safe opportunity to get our groceries without having us possibly being exposed.’”
Like many grocery stores across the country, Mulholland’s has been dealing with late delivery trucks, uncertainty of what’s going to be on the truck once it finally arrives and shortages of some high-demand products, like hand wipes, cleaning products, baking goods, some cereals and, yes, toilet paper.
For the most part, however, Mulholland has been able to keep his shelves and refrigerators stocked.
“At one point, we had people calling from Omaha, Council Bluffs and all over southwest Iowa because a lot of these other stores were out of ground beef and we still had it,” he said. “We didn’t run out of toilet paper until most of the other places already had. I’ve had people who’ve been to other stores all over the area who’ve said, ‘Your store is stocked better than most of them.’”
Mulholland said the best way for customers to place their order is by emailing a list of their requested items to email@example.com.
“Then, we can just go to the computer and print it off instead of spending 10 minutes on the phone with them writing it down,” he said. “We still might come back to them on the phone and tell them, ‘We don’t have a certain flavor or have this item. What would you like instead or what else can we get you?’
“We’re also getting phone-in orders from some older people who don’t have a computer and we’re happy to take those.”
Telephone orders can be placed by calling the store directly at 712-624-8448.