VALPARAISO, Ind.—Family Express, the 75-store convenience chain in Indiana, is taking extra precautions to keep customers and store employees healthy, according to the Northwest Indiana Times.
Recently, Family Express began installing dispensers filled with disposable wax tissues at each location so people don't need to touch any hard surfaces. The tissues can help prevent people from picking up or passing on germs from direct contact with gas pumps, gas nozzles, PIN pads, touch screens, door handles, refrigerator handles, coffee machines, ATMs or any other surface in the store.
Previously, the chain installed hand sanitizer stations throughout its stores, installed protective shields made by Portage-based Konrady Plastics to separate customers from cashiers and began taking the temperature of all employees when they reported to work for the beginning of their shift. If an employee has a high temperature, he or she is sent home.
"We have sought to create the most fortified open retail environment in the U.S. with these initiatives," said Gus Olympidis, president and CEO, Family Express.
"From what we've learned about the virus, the connectivity comes from hard surfaces that maintain the presence of the virus," Olympidis said.
While many stores and supermarkets have boosted their sanitization measures during the pandemic, the only way to ensure you're not touching infected hard surfaces is by using something like tissues, Olympidis said.
"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," he said. "This is creating a barrier between a hard surface and naked skin."
All Family Express stores will be fitted with the wax tissue paper dispensers by the end of this week. The tissues were designed to be translucent so they can be placed over a touch screen or pin pad, and the user can still see what buttons to press underneath.
The wax tissue dispensers were custom made by Wegener Steel/Fabrication in Valparaiso and are located by doors, gas pumps and coffee machines.
"We weren't able to find what we needed through suppliers, so we turned to local resources,” Olympidis said. “They stayed late—in a neighboring, patriotic way—to make and deliver these dispensers. That's an inspiration that's nothing short of remarkable. We're all coming together to take this on."
NACS has compiled resources to help the convenience retail community navigate the COVID-19 crisis. For news updates and guidance, visit our coronavirus resources page.