Still open ACE, Bashas’, Jones  face other troubles

From the outside, the parking lot for ACE Hardware and Bashas’ looks like any other normal day, but COVID-19 has changed how business is done.

By Shawn Byrne

Sun Editor/Photographer

Businesses that have found themselves on Gov. Doug Ducey’s “essential services” list are allowed to remain open, but it’s been anything but business as usual, as Wickenburg and the rest of the country strive to get past the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is definitely trying times,” said Brent McKeever, owner of ACE Hardware, 275 N. Tegner St. “How do you help somebody in the nuts-and-bolts-aisle? It’s hard to show a nut from six feet away.”

ACE Hardware is a hands-on business, and it can be difficult maintaining the recommended distance of six feet while staff tries to perform customer service. It is hard to maintain that distance while trying to show a customer a faucet, but ACE has taken steps to prevent the spreading of COVID-19. Employees at ACE are offering curbside service for their customers who order online, they are using splash shields, and are wiping everything down by the minute.

Some customers have told McKeever that COVID-19 “is a conspiracy against husbands.”

“They say to me, ‘You should see my honey-do list,” the store owner said. “A lot of people are getting interior and exterior things done, but this is devastating to our community.”

Plans were in place for ACE Hardware to reset its nuts and bolts section of the store, but McKeever has delayed doing so as to not put any additional stress on those who visit the store.

“I want my customers comfortable,” he said. “A lot of this is uncharted and we don’t know where this is going to go, but one thing you’re going to get in here is consistency. We have to be healthy and safe. We have to take this seriously.”

Grocery stores

Wickenburg’s grocery stores and smaller dollar stores have been trying to overcome the unprecedented demand and overbuying since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Panic purchasing has seemed to settle somewhat, but certain items continue to be difficult to keep in stock simply because of limited availability from vendors and manufacturers,” said Ashley Shick, director of communications and public affairs for Bashas’. “In the last few days and moving into the coming weeks we’ll increase load sizes to all of our stores as products become more readily available.”

Bashas’ is asking its customers to observe social distancing rules. The store has added signage, in-store messaging, put down 6-foot markings in key areas, and has added plexiglass at the registers to protect employees and customers. Bashas’ wants everyone to take only what they need to help ensure everyone can get what is needed.

“Current purchase limits have been placed on certain items,” Shick said. “We ask everyone to be kind to our members and to each other during these difficult days.”

She also said Bashas’ is not closing stores and the company is working around the clock to make certain the community has what is needed to care for everyone and their families.

“We have taken huge steps in every one of our stores to ensure that our customers and our store members are safe in our stores,” Shick said. “We do thank the community for their patience and kindness during this time.”

Auto repair and sales

Jones Ford Wickenburg will be celebrating its 50th anniversary in June, and General Manager Brian Jones said the dealership on Highway 60 has been through a lot over the years.

“In our 50 years we’ve never let employees go as a result of lack of business or hard times,” he said. “We’ve seen quite a few from the ’87 crash, 9/11, and the Great Recession. We’ve always done our best to keep everyone employed, and I am grateful for an amazing team of folks here.”

Jones Ford expects to continue this practice through the COVID-19 pandemic, and its main concern for the 62 employees, their families, friends, and customers is safety.

“We’re offering pickup and delivery service for both sales and service,” Jones said. “We’re wiping down steering wheels, wearing protective masks and gloves, and disinfecting the facility numerous times each day, along with keys and door handles.”

Though Jones Ford is an essential business as described by Ducey, the dealership has seen more than a 50-percent decrease in both sales and service. Ford and Chrysler each have put deals out there for their customers, according to Jones.

“It seems that vehicle sales have been affected more than service,” he said. “Honestly, it’s really an amazing time to purchase a vehicle or even get service done.”

As COVID-19 began making the news in January, Jones began to worry about supply-chain shortages such as vehicle parts, tires, and even new vehicles. The team at Jones Ford made large purchases of tires and maintenance parts.

“We’ve never had so many tires in stock,” the general manager said. “We even ordered heavy on new vehicles, hoping to make it through the shortages that will surely come.”

One reason for foreseeable shortages at Ford dealerships is that the company has stopped producing vehicles in order to make ventilators, which there is a growing shortage of around the country.

“I’m really proud of Ford,” Jones said. “This will end up having an impact on the flow of vehicles to the dealers for quite a few months.”

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