SUMITON – Phillip Bozeman of Bozeman’s Associated Foods Supermarket has been in the food business since 1993, and he said he’s never seen times like this. “It’s like having a snow day, every day,” Bozeman said. “My employees have worked so hard and for long hours just trying to catch up,” according to Bozeman. “This (COVID-19) is something that we’ve never seen.”
So far, the crew at Bozeman’s has managed to keep products on the shelves, and although they’ve been out of a few items like Clorox wipes and Lysol, Bozeman reported the store is "in pretty good shape."
“For the most part, we’ve got food,” he said.
Bozeman’s associates clean buggies and door handles frequently. “Our employees have the option to wear masks and gloves,” he said. The store also maintains the recommended six feet social distancing when possible. “We all are social people, so sometimes you still have people who want to walk up and talk to you,” he said.
You find yourself backing up and reminding them that everyone needs to maintain a safe distance from each other, according to Bozeman.
“My people have been incredible in every location. They’ve accepted the challenge and worked under dangerous conditions because hundreds of people come into the store each day,” Bozeman said.
The community, for the most part, has been really good, according to Bozeman. “We haven’t had any trouble,” he said.
Bozeman’s gets four or five meat trucks and three grocery trucks each week, according to Bozeman’s so there’s no shortage in groceries. Issues with the supply chain caused the shortages they are experiencing.
Bozeman explained that they did have to think “outside the box” on some suppliers to keep food on the shelves. For example, Bozeman reached out to restaurant suppliers and ordered meats from that source since the demand from restaurants isn’t what it was before the pandemic.
Bozeman’s hasn’t set limits on purchases of items. “I’ve seen pictures of people hoarding toilet paper and that sort of thing, but we haven’t had that issue,” he said. But the demand for groceries has increased because fewer people are eating out since the situation began, according to Bozeman. “People are eating differently and buying more groceries,” he said.
In the past, people would stop by the store to pick up items for dinner that night. Now people are buying groceries that last for a week, according to Bozeman. “We had a lot of working moms and dads that would stop by and buy food for that day, but we’re seeing more people buying for the week,” he said.
Special services offered at Bozeman’s include call-in curbside orders. “They call, give us their order and a credit card, we’ll fill the order and when they drive up, pop the trunk, and we’ll load the groceries,” he said. Bozeman also makes some deliveries to the elderly and shut-ins.
In addition to Bozeman’s in Sumiton, he owns Piggly Wiggly in Dora, Cordova, Berry, and the Hackleburg Market in Hackleburg.