“We’ve been busier than we usually are,” said Cody Barnes, manager at Maxwell’s.

During these trying times as box store chain grocers work to keep shelves stocked and people seek to avoid crowds, small grocers like Maxwell’s are seeing an uptick in business. That business comes with a cost, however, as it poses an risk of facilitating the spread of the novel coronavirus that has claimed eight Caddo and Bossier Parish residents and infected hundreds more.

To combat this risk, owner Ross Barclay and his team at Maxwell’s are taking extra precautions. Like many companies around the world, they are working with little guidance and balancing the tightrope of abiding by the crisis rules set by the state and federal government while providing an essential service to customers.

“It’s for everybody,” Barnes continued. “Not just for customer peace of mind, but for employees as well.”

The market began implementation of additional cleaning procedures and announced new store hours on March 25th. But even after the changes made to ensure clean surfaces, Barnes couldn’t help but notice that shoppers find it hard to break old habits like picking up products and putting them back.

“We did ask people to watch what they touched, but it’s such a normal part of life to touch things or lean on a case,” Barnes explained. “Trying to keep the door handles of all the display coolers and freezers sanitized has been a virtual nightmare. So we started giving customers gloves.”

In an effort to minimize the risk of transmission, Maxwell’s has assigned one employee to be the door person. That person would open the door for customers to avoid having to touch the handle and would hand customers a pair of fresh gloves from a box. Customers are required to wear the provided gloves while inside the store.

“There haven’t been any government officials telling us to do this or that, but we’re doing our best to do what we think we can,” said Barnes.

It’s hard to imagine anything that will be a perfect solution in everyone’s mind, and there are problems with using gloves too, but this seems to be as close as they can get while still being able to allow customers to shop for themselves. As the public health situation evolves, so too may our practices or our acceptance of what is in the best interest of our neighbors.

Stay strong, Shreveport.