March 2020 – The nationwide corporate retail initiative implementing dedicated shopping hours for seniors and at-risk individuals began with businesses in Mercer Island, Washington, a direct neighbor to Seattle, the proximate location of the first positive COVID-19 case in the United States. Leading the outreach and push for corporations to adopt these dedicated time-frames during the outbreak was Mercer Island Councilmember and Invoke Tax Partners Partner/CTO, Salim Nice. “I thought that this would be something useful to work with our island retailers with – I didn’t realize I’d have to go so high up in the corporate chain to get it done,” Nice said. “I kept urging them to keep it simple and do it fast, that’s the key to being effective with this strategy.”
Salim has worked with corporate offices for Kroger, QFC, Rite-Aid, Walgreens and Fred Meyer to rapidly establish dedicated shopping hours for these higher-risk groups. After starting in Mercer Island, it quickly turned into a corporate-led initiative that has spread nationwide.
With the dedicated hours primarily taking place first thing in the morning, the genesis behind the initiative is to block off time for these shoppers when facilities are their most clean. “It’s an extra benefit to the public,” Nice said. “Their supply chain is moving constantly, nobody is getting first run at items, it’s just the best time of the day for at-risk people to go because it is the cleanest.”
To read more around the origins of this initiative from the Mercer Island Reporter, click here.