Logan Square-area grocery stores have launched “senior shopping hours” to reduce the risk of coronavirus infection for at-risk customers.
Tony’s Fresh Market, which has 15 Chicago-area stores, now reserves the 7 a.m.-9 a.m. hours, Tuesdays and Thursdays, for seniors. The local chain launched those hours in late March, telling customers in flyers, “We appreciate your consideration of our senior shoppers and their overall health as well.” Logan’s Tony’s is at 3607 W. Fullerton Ave.
The Dill Pickle Co-op (2746 N. Milwaukee Ave.) started offering hours for “at-risk” customers from 10 a.m.-11 a.m. every day in early April. The store reserves those hours for seniors, as well as other individuals at increased risk from COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. That includes pregnant individuals and those with weakened immune systems.
“We want to make it safer to people who are at higher risk of catching COVID-19,” I’Talia McCarthy, general manager at Dill Pickle, told LoganSquarist. “Our seniors and [at-risk] people are really excited that we have these hours provided for them. They feel a lot safer shopping during those hours when the rest of the public isn’t there.”
Logan Store Senior/At-Risk Hours
- Aldi (4030 W. Wrightwood Ave.): Open at 8:30 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, with first hour for senior citizens, expectant mothers and those with underlying health conditions.
- Dill Pickle Co-Op (2746 N. Milwaukee Ave.): 10 a.m.-11 a.m. daily hours for at-risk individuals.
- Target (2656 N. Elston Ave.): 1st hour (8 a.m.-9 a.m. at Elston store) Wednesdays for elderly and those with underlying conditions.
- Tony’s Fresh Market (3607 W. Fullerton Ave.): 7 a.m.-9 a.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays for seniors.
Target, Aldi Offer Special Hours Too
Some chain grocery and department stores with a presence in Logan Square have instituted their own senior shopping hours. Notably, that includes Target, Aldi and Dollar General. Other major chains in the city offering special senior hours include Whole Foods, Jewel-Osco, Sam’s Club, Trader Joe’s, Kroger and Mariano’s.
See this “frequently updated” list from the Illinois Retail Merchants Association or this recent roundup from Time Out Chicago for more. (Dill Pickle’s senior hours are incorrectly listed as 8 a.m.-9 a.m. on those sites; the store recently changed its overall hours.)
All Target stores will reserve the first shopping hour on Wednesdays for the elderly and those with underlying conditions. That includes the Logan-area store at 2656 N. Elston Ave. (We’re still waiting for the mini Target.) “Target is encouraging other guests to plan their shopping trips around this time frame,” the company said.
Dollar General Stores, including Logan’s location at 3527 W. Armitage Ave., have dedicated their first hour of operation to senior shoppers. Aldi grocery stores now open early, at 8:30 a.m., on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with the first hour reserved for “senior citizens, expectant mothers and those with underlying health conditions.” Logan Square’s Aldi is at 4030 W. Wrightwood Ave.
The CDC says that “older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions might be at a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.” Those with underlying health conditions include the immunocompromised (due to cancer treatment, HIV or AIDs, or other conditions) and those with chronic lung disease, moderate to severe asthma, serious heart conditions, severe obesity, diabetes, and kidney or liver disease.
“Early data from China CDC indicated the virus can be fatal for older adults, especially those older than 80,” The Washington Post reported.
Distance still matters
Some disease experts have warned that social distancing still counts during designated senior shopping hours. Alysa Krain, an infectious disease doctor at the University of Pennsylvania, told The Washington Post that senior shopping times would make her “nervous” if they led to seniors congregating.
During these hours, stores still need to ensure that customers stay 6 feet apart and that crowds remain under 50 people, Krain said. She told the Post that she advises older clients to have friends or relatives shop for them.
Special senior shopping hours should still make a difference, though, Bettina Fries, head of the infectious disease department at Stony Brook Medicine, told the Post. “I hope the scattered shopping hours would lead to seniors being in a store with less people,” she said. “It’s less likely that you will have [a] senior with coronavirus in a store, because they’re less likely to be asymptomatic.”
To address those crowding concerns, Logan-area stores have taken additional measures, too. Dill Pickle now limits store occupancy to 15 customers and offers curbside pickup. “A lot of our seniors are opting into filling out a form online, and then we fill that order and they come pick it up the next day,” McCarthy said.
The co-op has also installed glass barriers at registers, placed checkout-lane markers to keep customers 6 feet apart and banned personal shopping bags. Dill Pickle now offers disposable bags at no charge. In addition, the co-op does deep sanitizing at the end of every day. Last week, it had a virucidal disinfectant service performed in by a third party. Many Aldi and Dollar General stores have limited their hours to allow for extra cleaning.
Convenience stores take extra measures
A lot of grocery shopping in Logan Square happens outside of large grocery and department stores, however. None of the various neighborhood convenience stores we contacted have adopted special shopping hours for seniors or other groups. But several stores told LoganSquarist they have taken on additional cleaning measures and other precautions.
FoodSmart (3415 W. Diversey Ave. and 2901 W. Armitage Ave.) hasn’t changed its regular, 24-hour schedule, but offers cleaning wipes to customers and brings in a company to disinfect its stores. As a convenience store, “we don’t have too many customers come in at the same time,” store manager Mike Sbirados told LoganSquarist. J.J. Peppers (3201 W. Diversey Ave.) similarly told LoganSquarist that, as a convenience store, it doesn’t have people gather.
Avondale’s pan-Asian supermarket Joong Boo Market (3333 N. Kimball Ave.) doesn’t have special hours, the store told LoganSquarist. But the supermarket takes other measures, handing out gloves at the entrance, sanitizing the store before and after closing, and limiting the number of customers to 30 at a time, a store representative said.
Featured photo: Michael Dhar