TREMONTON – By Cari Doutre – March 15, 2020
During times of crisis, panic or uncertainty, how a community works together to handle those situations can bring out the best in others - and even restore faith in humanity.
When Kent’s Market in Tremonton was faced with a community in fear, they worked together to provide a calming assurance to their customers.
It started on Thursday, March 12, 2020, a day Layne Julander, Store Director at Kent’s Market in Tremonton, described as “busier than usual but otherwise uneventful.”
By the next day, it was apparent – the community was scared, and it was unlike anything Julander has experienced in his 29 years working at Kent’s in Tremonton.
The source of the entire country, if not the world’s, recent panic is from COVID-19, or coronavirus. This virus was first discovered in humans in 2019. As to date China has been affected the most by COVID-19.
Symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to a common cold and are generally mild for children and young adults. Symptoms can include fever, cough and respiratory symptoms such as shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.
Even with the overall statistics low and recovery rates extremely high, it didn’t stop the country from going into panic mode, even in Box Elder County.
Looking back at the past few days, Julander is still amazed at what he saw.
“We have been through a lot of crazy things in those years and even though my team of employees has always amazed me, their response to the coronavirus scare, and the huge influx of business it created, has been nothing less than extraordinary,” Julander said.
That response from employees is what amazed Julander.
By Friday, March 13, customers were clearing the shelves at Kent’s, desperate for supplies and uncertain of the future. It was something the store wasn’t quite prepared for, but one by one employees stepped up.
“I simply got on our employee Facebook page and asked for help and one after another either offered or just started showing up,” Julander recalled.
Employees from every department in Kent’s lent a helping hand. From pharmacists to the Harrow brothers, Dave and Jeff, (owners of Kent’s Optics), everyone pitched in. They kept busy by bagging groceries, working on check stands and bringing in grocery carts from outside. It took a team to get through it all.
Even Julander did what he had to do and took on a task he hasn’t done in years.
“I was in a check stand for the first time in a while (not proud of that) and next thing you know, without asking, I had three employees from our pharmacy out bagging groceries. I had my dairy and frozen department guys out bringing in carts as fast as they could,” Julander said.
It was all happening with no complaints and with positive attitudes.
“It was a humbling and special thing to watch everyone so cheerful and happy to help,” he added.
It didn’t end there.
Even before Utah Governor Gary Herbert announced that all public schools in Utah would be dismissed or have a “soft closure,” on Friday afternoon, shelves at Kent’s started to empty completely by customers.
Once again, employees at Kent’s stepped up.
“We had deli and bakery employees helping clean shelves while they were empty from shoppers. We had managers, checkers, baggers and service staff staying late into the night to restock and clean up,” Julander said.
Many of those employees have worked 12 to 15 hour shifts and are, “gladly doing what they can to help the community be able to get the things they need,” Julander said.
Truck load after truck load, more and more supplies have been arriving at the store and employees at Kent’s will continue to work just as hard.
“In the coming days, as we get truck loads in, they will no doubt give up time away from family to help replenish the shelves,” Julander said.
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There are too many people to name individually. It was an entire team effort.
“I would for sure miss someone if I named names, so suffice to say, everyone just stepped up and went above and beyond to help, crossing departments and stepping in without one complaint,” Julander said.
Julander isn’t the only one that has noticed the hard work and sacrifice employees at Kent’s have given to the community.
“Many customers have come to me or other managers expressing appreciation for how hard our employees have worked and helping them to find what they are looking for and to try and answer their questions or concerns,” he said.
There’s more to the effort than just that, Julander said. It’s the community that also deserves recognition.
“These employees and this great community deserve a huge round of applause. I hear stories of things getting out of hand in towns to the south and people being rude to each other. I have not seen this and that is a huge credit to our valley,” he said.
Box Elder County Commissioner Stan Summers reached out to Julander to see what he could do to help. Julander took him up on that offer and on Sunday, March 15, Summers stocked the shelves at Kent’s. He even did it with a smile on his face. Story continues below...
After 29 years with Kent’s in Tremonton, Julander’s job is more than just a job, and he loves his community.
“I hesitate to say this, but I have bet my livelihood on Kent’s and the Tremonton area. I am all in and when the community suffers, we suffer,” he said.
The continuing efforts at Kent’s to help keep the community supplied with what they need isn’t worrisome to Julander. He has every bit of confidence that the store will be able to provide for the community and that this too will pass.
“I have great confidence that we will get through this in pretty good shape and will be able to provide most of, if not all, items needed to ride this virus out in the coming days,” Julander stated confidently.
Truck loads will continue to deliver supplies to Kent’s every day.
Julander also made a point to recognize the hard work and dedication of semi-truck drivers and all others associated with that end of the industry. They too have stepped up in a big way and deserve gratitude from the community for their efforts.
It’s those combined efforts all around that have maintained a sense of calm in recent days.
Employees at Kent’s aren’t just making sure shelves are stocked. They are also being very diligent at making sure frequently touched surfaces are properly cleaned and sanitized.
“Rest assured that our employees and our customers’ health is at the forefront of our minds and every effort is being made to help you have a safe shopping experience,” Julander said.
The past few days have proven to Julander that there is a lot of good in the community.
“I give all credit to my employees and am grateful to have a chance to publicly thank them for being the best there is and a huge shout out to a great community,” he added.
As for the biggest question on the minds of local residents – will Kent’s in Tremonton receive more inventory of toilet paper anytime soon?
Julander couldn’t say for sure because just as fast as stockers can replenish packages of toilet paper, they are snatched up and purchased by customers even faster.
But take it easy. The store limits customers to two packages of toilet paper per customer. The same goes for paper towels, sugar and flour. It’s a rationing policy that Kent’s Market in Tremonton is implementing for the betterment of the community.
“It has been amazing to watch the community as a whole have good attitudes and realize that we are all in it together,” Julander added.