The Coronavirus Has Created a New Shopping Opportunity for Seniors
Here is Our Coronavirus Feel Good Story
Many stores are offering early morning “senior hour” shopping, so that we boomers and seniors can shop with like-minded folks and not be mingled with the masses. Our first shopping experience was this past Tuesday, the inaugural opening of Costco at 8:00 am allowing seniors to enter the store before their regular hours of 10:00 am.
My BoomerGuy and I arrived at our favorite Costco at 7:30 am thinking this would be the perfect opportunity to get a front row spot, then get into and out of Costco in record time. Upon arrival, the line of seniors was around the building and doubling back into the parking lot. We figured it would take us easily two hours to just get to the door; by then most everything we needed would be picked over, and Costco would then be opening to their normal customer flow.
Well, we didn’t even get out of our car. We decided to go to Vons, another favorite of ours which is a southern California grocery chain once owned by Safeway, and now by Albertson’s. Keep in mind, it’s now only about 8:00 am here on a sunny Tuesday morning and they just opened to their new senior hours. No line, we got right in, and found virtually everything we would have purchased at Costco, albeit with smaller quantities and a little higher price.
We know the location of most of the foods and other products so it only took us about 30 minutes to score, and fill our cart. We did the Happy Dance, knowing we got most of what we needed and would be exiting the store before the seniors in line at Costco even got to the front door.
But that’s not the best part of the story. While my BoomerGuy was in line to check out and respecting the 6-foot social distancing mandate with all the other seniors, he befriended the beautiful little lady directly behind him in line. She was standing with her credit card in hand, a cart full of groceries, and sharing her story of being a cancer survivor, loving to cook soups, and how she volunteered serving food at the local homeless shelter. He was so taken with her, that he instructed the checker to put all of her groceries on his tab. Well now, that created something worthy of Hollywood. She started crying, the checker started crying, the bagger started crying, the people in line behind her were crying, and pretty soon it spread throughout the entire front of the store. And yes, my BoomerGuy had tears also. It was really messy, but a good messy. He had never “paid it forward” before and has commented almost daily how great it felt to do that.
So, had we not caved to the crowd at Costco, that wonderful coronavirus experience at Vons would probably never have happened.
Here is my message. Be flexible in these very difficult and uncertain times. Don’t be so regimented that you fall into a single routine. Now there is nothing wrong with Costco, in fact, it is still our “go to” shopping experience, but we changed things up only because of the circumstances with the long lines. When we drove by that same Costco later that day, the parking lot was virtually empty and that most likely should have been the time to drop in.
Some helpful tips which I always try to provide.
- Make out a list of all the items you want, realizing of course you might not be able to cross off everything due to shortages. I have made out lists for years, and it helps with the efficiency of the shopping experience, especially now.
- Be prepared to shop for others during this time. We have shopped for my parents for over seven years as they were house-bound and not able to drive nor walk without a wheelchair, and for the past two years since they were admitted to a skilled nursing facility. And, yes, we still have to buy certain items for them regardless of their nursing care.
- Ask your neighbors what they might need, and work out a system where you pick up specific items and separate them in their own bag. I can assure you, like my BoomerGuy paying it forward, this good deed will be returned to you at some point.
- Be prepared for almost anything while you’re out shopping. I encountered a senior woman the other day who was having a panic attack, where she could not catch her breath. I thought she was going to pass out, so I jumped into action still maintaining my safe distance. I told her to hold onto her cart and breathe in and out slowly, and kept reassuring her she would be just fine. Eventually, she mellowed out and thanked me and said she was just having a hard time navigating the new extremes of everything associated with the health scare.
- While most of the retail outlets are closed for business, the ones classified as essential products and services remain open, namely groceries, pharmacies, home services industries, etc. We were at Home Depot and they were controlling the line entering the store, that is allowing only a certain number of people to enter only after an equal number had exited. It was their way of controlling the social distancing parameters the best they could.
- We went into our favorite Asian market called the 99 Ranch Market. I’ve never seen more respectful people keeping their distance, especially at check out. In between customers, the checker used disinfectant wipes to cleanse the conveyor belt and keypad where you would insert your credit card. He also handed each person their own wipe, then mentioned “stay healthy and be safe.” What outstanding courtesy!
- By all means, take advantage of the new senior shopping hours—great examples are Target, Trader Joe’s, Walmart, Home Depot, Costco, Vons and so many others trying so hard to keep us safe. We just found out Big Lots is dedicating the first hour of everyday to senior and vulnerables. Yeah!
It’s a new world out there, and right now we have no idea how long all these practices will remain in effect, but for now don’t be dismayed. There is so much good floating around, so take the time to look for it, and you will be rewarded.
Please don’t stop the kindness, even when we are immersed in our own lives. My challenge to you is to share your stories here at BoomerGal.com. Stay healthy and stay safe and remember to practice social distancing.