Grocery shopping is a lot right now. We know you want to be safe, get what you need, and support the Co-op. So we set out to answer some questions we’ve been hearing from y’all…

How can I support the Co-op/staff right now? 

We exist to get food to our community, and we are honored when you trust us with your grocery shopping, especially during this time. You support the Co-op by shopping with us!

Here are some tips from staff to make your grocery trip go smoothly, and make it a safe and easy experience for everyone:

Wear a mask, and wear it properly! This means covering your nose and mouth at all times. 

Thank the staff for their hard work – it makes a big difference during a long day to hear a kind word 🙂

Put your shopping carts all the way back when you’re done – it makes it easier for us to stay on top of sanitizing them, rather than rounding them up.

When at the register:

Speak up, but keep your mask on! Sometimes people want to take their masks off to be heard, which exposes staff – just talk louder with your mask on! We want to hear you!

Use the shield guard, rather than stepping around it.

Be patient and keep a distance when you’re in line – we know it takes us a bit longer to check you out, because we are sanitizing, putting on gloves, etc. We appreciate your patience and kindness so much.

– Keep in mind that many of our cashiers are filling in from other departments when needed – your extra patience is appreciated as they do their best to ring you up properly. 

What safety precautions are you taking?

Our current safety precautions include:

– Modified store hours that allow us to clean and sanitize the store and to stock our shelves without crowding the aisles

– All customers 2 years and older are required to wear a mask in the store

– Frequent sanitation of high touch areas 

– Plexiglass barriers at registers

– Limiting shoppers in the store and maintaining social distance – we ask everyone to keep at least a 6 ft distance from other customers in the store. Check out our little fruit friends on the floor by the registers to show you proper spacing, and the new arrows that make our aisles one-way and reduce traffic!

For a full list of our COVID precautions, click here.

Can I bring in my own bags? Can I bag my own groceries?

Yes and yes! Please do! If a staff member is not available to bag your groceries, feel free to jump in and help. If a staff member has already started bagging your groceries, but you prefer to do it yourself, you can politely ask to take over 🙂

What is your return policy right now?

Our return policy hasn’t changed. But bear with us – because of COVID, there may be times where we have questions, or have to do things a little differently.

Our policy is: We will give you your money back on anything you weren’t satisfied with, without a receipt (unless it’s a Wellness item – for those, we need a receipt). We don’t actually want the product back, unless it is 100% sealed product, ready for sale, not refrigerated. For example: if you get done shopping, get to your car, and realize you bought the wrong kind of cereal, DO bring that box back in and we’ll swap it for a new one! But if you get home, open a product, and realize it has gone bad – you don’t need to save it and bring it back to us. 

If we have proof of purchase questions, we can look up your purchases if you’re an owner. And of course if you have a receipt, it helps to bring it! 

What happened to owner giveaways? 

We miss giving you owner gifts, and we will begin doing this again as soon as we can! We’ve put Owner Giveaways on hold because product availability is still unpredictable, and we’ve been putting all of our energy into keeping the shelves stocked with essential groceries. We still love you and can’t wait to get back to it!

How’s it going enforcing mask policy?

To review our policy: We ask that all customers, 2 years and older, wear a mask in the store. This is to keep us all safe! 

Please make sure your mask covers your mouth and noseit’s hard on staff to have to correct customers wearing their masks incorrectly.

We now have a stash of masks available, if you get to the store and realize you’ve forgotten yours.

Don’t take your mask off to talk to staff! Just speak up! 

Enforcing mask policy often puts staff in a difficult position – sometimes people get mad when we ask them to put a mask on, and sometimes people get mad because they see customers without a mask. We are navigating a lot of tension, and we are learning a lot. Thank you for your help in keeping our community safe.

What’s the best way to get information about whether the item I need is in stock?

If you call the store with a question, please call with patience – it helps if you have time to potentially wait on hold until we can check on something for you, or if you are willing to call back at a better moment. 

This is because: our cashiers are the ones who answer our phones, and their job takes more time and focus than usual these days. It’s also often hard for our cashiers to leave their registers, because we have reduced the number of staff on the floor during shopping hours, to make things as safe as possible. We know that this is hard when you’re calling with a question, and we’re sorry. We still want to help you!

Another good way to get an answer to your question is to email: info@durham.coop. Or, if you have a question about a specific department, you can find our staff emails here!

How can I request items I want to see in stock, or make a special order?

To request items or place a special order, please email: info@durham.coop

We are now accepting special orders again! We had stopped for a while, but we’re back. We can get most things, but bear with us – distribution is spotty in general, and small vendors are especially hard right now.

Why are things still missing from the shelf?

There are many items that are still hard to get from the companies we order from, big and small. We are actively seeking appropriate substitutes – we know some of them are a little weird, and it is our intention to get our favorite brands back in stock as soon as they are available!

Why are there still reduced hours? Why isn’t the co-op open earlier?

We are continuing to have reduced hours for the foreseeable future, because it helps us keep staff and customers safe. Our current hours allow us more time to clean and sanitize the store and to stock our shelves before and after customers arrive, so that we don’t have to crowd the aisles during shopping hours. 

Why is ownership important right now?

Businesses are really taking a hit from COVID-19 and there’s a lot of unknowns about the future. Cooperative economics makes us stronger! Being community owned means we can work together to support our local business and our community of owners, staff, and customers. Ownership helps us thrive and ensures the co-op will be here for a long time. 

What happened to the bulk section?

One of the safety precautions we have taken is to reduce the number of high-touch areas in the store, such as bulk bins, which many customers touch throughout the day. Staff members are pre-packaging bulk items for you, to reduce contact and make your shopping experience safer and quicker!

Does it really make a difference when I Round Up? 

Yes! Your Round Up dollars DIRECTLY help your neighbors have access to food and products they need, and it’s more needed now than ever. 

Every cent from our Round Up program goes to subsidize a 20% discount for Food For All members – our members who qualify for SNAP and other benefits. This is double the 10% discount given by most other Co-ops, and we are only able to fund this additional discount through our community. We are proud that we are able to give a meaningful discount to make our store more accessible, and that we sustain this program through community giving. So yes, it makes a BIG DIFFERENCE every time you Round Up, especially now!

Is $3 dinner coming back?

We don’t have plans to bring back $3 dinner. We are a little heartbroken about it, but it just doesn’t feel like the right thing to do. We will look for new ways to delight our community while keeping each other safe during this time!

Is the hot bar coming back?

We are actively looking into plans for reintroducing hot food in a way that feels safe. We are hoping to focus more on take-home, hot food for the family. Stay tuned!

Is Winesday coming back?

We love it, we miss it – and we’re still prioritizing safety, minimizing staff, and not holding any in-person gatherings. We will bring back Winesday as soon as it feels right! Zac misses it too, and would love to answer your questions in the meantime – you can email him at zac@durham.coop. Zac is also planning some virtual wine talks, so stay tuned for info on how you can enjoy Winesday at home.

Is the coffee bar coming back?

We will return to having hot coffee for customers, although probably not espresso drinks. For the moment, we are still eliminating high-touch/self-serve items in the store, and not able to have people safely congregate. We will keep you posted as things continue to change.