VALPARAISO, Ind. — Family Express Corp., which operates 75 convenience stores throughout northwest and central Indiana, is taking additional precautions at both its stores and manufacturing facilities to help fight the spread of COVID-19.
The Valpariso-based chain has been installing dispensers of disposable wax tissues in its stores so that customers don't have to touch any hard surfaces. By using the wax tissues, people don’t have to directly touch gas pumps, gas nozzles, PIN pads, touchscreens, door handles, refrigerator handles, coffee machines, ATMs, or any other hard surface in the store — thus preventing the spread of germs, according to a report by The Northwest Indiana Times.
The dispensers are situated by doors, gas pumps and coffee machines. The tissues are translucent, so they can be placed over a touchscreen or pin pad and one can still see what’s underneath.
Gus Olympidis, Family Express president and CEO, told the news outlet that the tissues are the best way to be completely sure that germs are not being spread via touch.
"If a door handle is sanitized every 20 minutes, and it was sanitized 20 minutes ago, it doesn't matter if the person who walked in right in front of you has coronavirus," Olympidis said. "This is creating a barrier between a hard surface and naked skin."
Other protective measures that have been implemented by Family Express are:
- Installing hand sanitizer stations throughout its stores;
- Putting in protective shields at its cashier stations; and
- Doing temperature checks of all employees at the beginning of their shifts, sending home anyone with a high temperature.
"We have sought to create the most fortified open retail environment in the U.S. with these initiatives," said Olympidis.
In addition to in-store changes, Family Express also has made adjustments at its recently opened multimillion-dollar bakery distribution center. All of its doughnuts and muffins (now made in a new square shape) are being fitted into individual plastic wrappers as they come off the assembly line so that customers will feel safer purchasing the fresh baked goods.
"We're adjusting our model to the reality of the consumer not trusting an open case product," Olympidis told the news outlet. "We're faced with the necessity to reinvent ourselves. Fortunately, we have the automated capability to wrap our products."
Family Express is exploring additional packaging adjustments and automating production, such as placing doughnuts into six-packs. The wrapping has the added benefit of extending the shelf life of the baked goods, according to the company.
Family Express has donated hundreds of doughnuts to front-line healthcare workers since the coronavirus pandemic began.