This interview, by Janet Thomas, with King's Market Manager Taylor Clark is the fourth in a series about essential workers.
Q: As the store manager for King's Market you already had a wide array of responsibilities before the onset of COVID 19. What are the additional changes in routine at King's that are the result of this crisis?
A: Routines have definitely changed. It’s strange that gloves a mask have become “the norm”. We have always cleaned the entire store, but now it’s on a whole new level. I have an employee that comes in every night after closing to wipe down 35-40 items from a checklist. I also have Pristine Property Care cleaning all glass surfaces every other day. We clean all throughout the day as well.
Q: How many employees does King's have?
A: We currently have about 65-70 employees at Kings. That includes our Sportswear and Marine departments.
Q: These days, when I do my quick shopping trips to Kings and Market Place, I am so appreciative of the cheerful warmth of the employees. How does the morale stay so high?
A: It starts at the top. We feel that if we as managers keep a calm and positive attitude that will translate to the rest of our staff & customers as well. We have a great culture here right now, and I’m incredibly proud of how the employees are handling themselves.
Q: What brought you to SJI? How long have you lived on the island? Do you have family here? Could you share about your history & family? How are they handling this time of crisis?
A: My mom, Cherie Jackson, was born and raised on the island. Both sides of her family had very deep island roots. I’ve been visiting since I was a baby, but I’ve lived here for 16 years now. I have numerous family members here. My mother and stepdad, 2 brothers, countless cousins, many in-laws, and of course, my wife and 3 children. I’m extremely proud of my heritage here on SJI, and am very grateful to have the opportunity to carry on the family tradition of being an impactful community member. At home, my wife Summer and children Nicholas, Sofia and Jax have been exceptionally supportive of my long days.
Q: How do you personally deal with the pressures and fears related to COVID 19?
A: Lots of deep breaths!!! It really has been nice to work and keep my mind occupied. We feel at the store that we want to be there to help our community in this time of need, and that helps keep the focus positive.
Q: How are King's suppliers holding up in this crisis? Is there an ongoing shortage of certain things?
A: Our suppliers are honestly trying their best. We have called upon a couple of suppliers that we don’t normally use, and that has been incredibly helpful. We really try every avenue possible to meet the needs of our customers. Some items are particularly difficult to get our hands on, especially cleaning supplies. Hopefully within the next month or two, most of that will level off.
Q: What do you want the public to know about how to shop during these times?
A: I want the public to try and shop as close to normal as they possibly can. Try and save some for your neighbors, we’re all in this together. Please be patient and trust that we are doing our best to meet everyone’s needs.
Q: What can we do to be as careful as possible in protecting the staff at King's as well as ourselves.
A: We greatly appreciate when our customers wear masks and adhere to the simple rules of social distancing.
Q: I greatly appreciate the opportunity to order online at King's. I have the urge to tip the person who brings me my groceries. Is tipping allowed? Would it be possible to have tip jars at the checkout counter?
A: You can absolutely tip those who are bringing out your groceries to you. If a customer ever feels compelled to tip a Kings employee, please feel free. I’m all for rewarding exemplary service.
Q: All our service workers in the county are going above & beyond to keep us all safe, fed, fueled, transported etc. What can we do to make their lives easier during this crisis?
A: Just smile, be courteous and patient.
Q: When there is no COVID 1 crisis, what do you do for fun?
A: I love spending time with my family. I live for sunny, warm evenings where I can BBQ and listen to music. I’m a sports nut, and am pretty obsessed with fantasy football.
Q: When you get the opportunity to take a vacation, where will you go?
A: My family and I can’t wait(when allowed) to hop a jet to Maui!
Q: Any further thoughts to share?
A: If anyone is uncomfortable coming into the store, for whatever reason, please feel free to use our new online ordering service. We don’t want anyone in our community to feel scared to shop for their groceries. You can go to our website at kings-market.com, click on the “order online” tab and go from there. We can typically fill an order within 24 hours and will then call the customer when done to accept payment. Call our new Online Ordering phone number at 360-298-4566 with any questions.