Many local businesses have ceased operations amidst the stay-at-home order that was implemented by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee earlier this month.
The White River Junction shopping center at the intersection of A and 37the streets southeast in Auburn is no stranger to the impact of this order.
From a grocery store and beauty parlor, to a specialty dentist for children and a place for getting taxes done, the shopping center is now mostly closed until at least May 4.
Only five out of 11 business are open. Several restaurants are open for take away orders, while the Bartell’s pharmacy has shut their doors.
One of the stores that has remained open during this crucial time is Albertson’s. The grocery store has taken steps to protect their employees and customers.
Recently hired part-time employee Julie Ritch said “I never even heard the word pandemic before and now I had to get a second job because of one,”
“My family mostly has jobs that [they] are laid off from,” Ritch said. “I am lucky enough to be able to find work and make more money.”
Albertson’s has made structural changes for proper social distancing, with shields of Plexiglass to protect cashiers and reminding shoppers to keep a six-foot distance away from others.
An employee who has worked at Albertsons for over 15 years said “Our almost-always too busy and understaffed store is unimaginably busier than ever.”
The company has had the largest hiring campaign she’s known and within the last four weeks, she said there were at least eight new hires.
Some were hired specifically to disinfect and clean designated areas of the store, and others to keep the shelves fully stocked.
Albertsons is not the only business working to keep people safe.
The stay-healthy strategies are being implemented in all the open stores in the complex.
“The most difficult thing has been following all the new guidelines and suggestions that come out like everyday,” said Miranda Hargis, a store clerk from a small convenience shop located in the shopping plaza.
“The weirdest thing is having my boss [the owner] around so much,” Hargis said
Typically, Hargis works her shifts alone but she said “With the extra available time on his hands the owner is finding a lot of projects around the shop to work on.”