Even before the coronavirus was ever confirmed on Montana soil, Madison County was feeling the effects. The grocery stores in Ennis, Twin Bridges and Sheridan have all been experiencing unprecedented demand, particularly for sanitizers and paper products.
Walters in Sheridan is limiting customers to one pack each of toilet paper and paper towels. It’s the same story at the Main Street Market in Twin Bridges. There they’re also rationing hand sanitizer, bleach, dish soap and over the counter medications.
“Just like every other place we are having trouble keeping things on the shelf,’” said a spokeswoman.
In Ennis, Chris Gentry who owns Madison Foods says their suppliers have reduced their deliveries by 15% to the massive increase in nationwide demand.
“We just cannot predict when we will get stock in,” she said.
“We are telling customers and staff to take a common sense approach. If someone is sick, don’t come into the store. We can deliver groceries via our website or people can call the store. We will be using Facebook to update people. We have told all our staff that their safety and that of the customers is paramount. If they are sick, they should not come in.”
Chris has also created a series of information sheets for customers containing essential instructions like what to do if you think you’re sick or if you have come into contact with someone who has already fallen ill.
“We are trying to keep people as informed as we can”, she said.
At True Value, Wayne Black who employs a staff of 18 is taking an equally practical approach.
“It’s really a case of taking each day as it comes and being able to react to the breaking developments,” he said. “We are not panicking but have increased cleaning in the store and we are wiping down inven- tory as each shipment arrives. “
They too have run out of hand sanitizer and Wayne thinks it could be April before it is back in the store. In the meantime, he says people should consider making their own sanitizer using rubbing alcohol cut with aloe. Like Madison Foods, True Value is also working with customers to make their lives as easy as possible.
“If people are sick and need something, why they can call the store and we will set the item in a box by the curb. That way the customers and employees are kept safe. Overall we are telling people to pay attention to the basics of their own health, handwashing, keeping your distance from people and coughing into a tissue. The common sense approach.”