The Durango Natural Foods Co-op launched a curbside pickup service with online grocery ordering Monday in an effort to keep shoppers and workers safe during the new coronavirus pandemic.
Durango’s locally-owned grocery cooperative chose to close its shop in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. So, the store decided to start a curbside pickup operation from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily with store orders taken online.
“Things are kind of changing every day. We wanted to evolve with the situation that’s happening,” said Hadley Guidry, marketing manager for Durango Natural Foods Co-op. “As of right now, we are strictly curbside, and we have been able to fill orders the same day they’ve been placed.
“We are taking all the precautions to stay sanitary and clean. We’re all wearing face masks and gloves and are sanitizing surfaces all the time.”
Not only does the move help protect shoppers to help keep them supplied without having to come in close contact with other customers, it also will help protect co-op employees.
“The idea stemmed from the stories coming out about grocery store workers getting sick and some dying,” said co-op employee Theo Reitwesner. “All food stores are essential to the health of the community, and we are taking a pretty extreme preventative measure by switching to curbside, but it is the responsible move for the health of the most people.”
Orders can be filled between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. After an order is filled, the co-op and customer will agree to a 15-minute window for pickup.
There is no guarantee all items will be available, but deliveries from local farmers and the co-op’s distributors are coming in regularly as scheduled.
“Our selection has pretty much remained in stock,” Guidry said. “Some items such as bell peppers or cauliflower do go out, but our produce truck comes every Tuesday, and we still have local farmers in touch every week. People are dropping off eggs like crazy, and you can’t find eggs at a lot of other stores. Every chance we have to restock, we do it as fast as we can with all hands on deck.”
Orders will come in a box placed on the back loading dock of the store with the customer’s name written on it. The store is currently only accepting credit and debit cards, no cash.
For $31, customers may also purchase a food donation box to go to people in need in La Plata County.
Durango Natural Foods Co-op is located at 575 East Eighth Ave. Shoppers with purchases of nine items or fewer may order by telephone at 247-8129.
The store is exploring ways to reopen while also working to keep people safe. Until then, the curbside-only operation will continue.
“We are member-owner run. A bunch of our member-owners are an older crowd who joined us back in the 1970s when we first opened,” Guidry said. “We are super grateful for them, and they are a vulnerable crowd right now. We want to protect them but still get them food that they know where it’s coming from and get it to them the same day they order. We’ve had good feedback on that. We are still figuring out the little quirks of what curbside has to offer and how best to get it out there, but so far it’s working pretty well.
“Until the store reopens, we are working to find the safest and most efficient way to continue to get healthy foods out to people in a safe manner.”