Question: What is a supermarket?

Answer: A large food store in which shoppers serve themselves from open shelves and pay at the exit.

Woodruff’s Supermarket in Liberty has redefined that definition through 76 years of business and especially since the Coronavirus has changed our lives and lifestyles.

The closure of schools and various other public places where people gather raised grave concern about what the future might bring and how they might cope.

Basic concerns about jobs, food, etc., head the list for everyone.

Last week Tim Woodruff took time out of his busier than usual schedule to share his thoughts of the past two weeks.
Extremely busy, extremely busy, were his first words.

The store was swamped with customers nearly every day and shelves emptied of some items. Toilet paper, hand sanitizer, Lysol products, potatoes, eggs and meat are hot items. Woodruff said suppliers are trying to send Lysol-type products, etc. to hospitals, nursing homes, etc., so it may be a long time before they get some of those items.

“Our customers have been understanding, most of them are very understanding and not over-doing it,” Woodruff said. “They have kids at home now and you can’t get by with one roll of toilet paper or a dozen eggs, a pound of ground beef doesn’t go very far. One rule doesn’t fit all.”

With many shelves empty over the weekend, the main delivery truck was a day late in making the delivery.

“We were out of a lot of stuff. Our shelves were as bare as they were the day before we opened in this location,” he said. “We did get more toilet paper than I thought we would in that first delivery, but it lasted about three days.” Woodruff said. “And got a huge supply of eggs in. I couldn’t believe how fast they went out.”

Fresh meat to fill the meat cases is the hardest to keep up with.

“We’re not getting everything we order - produce, dairy, meat, frozen. As soon as our meat comes in, it’s gone,” he said. “We have three to cut our meat and they are just cutting, cutting, cutting as fast as they can and waiting on customers. It has been going out as quick as it comes in.”

Ground beef was in high demand early, and during the first week the store limited it to five lbs. per customer and then to one-pound. Eggs and bread were also limited.

Summer customers of the store have returned to shop at Woodruff’s. They come from Hamilton, Dayton, Cincinnati, Richmond, Connersville saying Walmart is out and Kroger is out. So they come here.    

“Some of our employees are just bending over backwards. They stay as long as we need them. It has been a big effort to get customers taken care of,” Woodruff said.

“Last week and the week before have been the biggest sales weeks we have ever had. It has been just unbelievable. Luckily I have high school kids that can work now. We wouldn’t have made it without them.”

Few children have been seen in the store, or senior citizens which means parents are keeping their kids home and away from crowds to help eliminate the spread of the virus.

As for the senior citizens, Woodruff’s welcomed their orders placed by phone and made deliveries if needed.

“Right now we have had a lot of help and people willing to work, even former employees are calling, and Whitney’s husband, Ceasar Cruz, came in when the truck came in a day late to help us unload. You can’t ask for more help than what we’ve had. It’s very humbling. You really appreciate our community at a time like this.”    

Note: They can't work from home.
They spend hours a day within a few feet of a never-ending line of strangers, despite public health guidelines on social distancing.
And rather than their work slowing down, it has sped up.
America's grocery store workers are on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic, helping to keep the nation's 330 million residents alive and fed in an uncertain and frightening time.