The early bird: Area grocers offer special senior shopping hours

Drew Butler

To mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, health officials are urging everyone to maintain social distancing by avoiding crowds and public places. Unfortunately this is not always possible — especially if the cabinets are bare. In the same way that everyone has to buy groceries, everyone could potentially contract the virus, and senior citizens are especially vulnerable because they have a higher risk of developing serious complications.

Many area grocers have recognized this risk and are now offering “senior hours” exclusively for customers ages 60 and over. Senior citizens will be able to come first thing in the morning and buy what they need while limiting their exposure to crowds.

The Super C Mart in Wilson is one of these grocery stores, and Assistant Manager Heather Murphy said the store will be open exclusively to seniors between the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. every morning.

“We wanted to make sure that our seniors are safe and have the chance to get the things they need,” Murphy said.

Delbert’s Supermarkets, located in Healdton, Comanche, Colbert and Rush Springs, will also be implementing early morning senior hours. Owner Greg Clinkenbeard said the hours will be from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. at every location except Colbert which will be from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m.

“The first part of every day will be for our senior citizens to come do their shopping,” Clinkenbeard said. “We want to make sure that they can be the very first ones in here while the store is the absolute cleanest before all the crowds come through.”

Some national chains are also picking up on the new trend, and Dollar General announced Monday that all their locations will be dedicating the first hour of their day to seniors. Todd Vasos, Dollar General CEO, explained the move in a press release.

“In keeping with our mission and our ongoing commitment to serve our communities, we are dedicating the first hour of each day to seniors,” Vasos said. “We appreciate our customers’ understanding of our decision and request they visit our stores later in the morning to allow at-risk populations the ability to purchase the items they need at affordable prices.”

Clinkenbeard pointed out that though these hours will be exclusively for seniors, senior citizens are welcome to come later in the day if they prefer.