Boise, ID – According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), as of July 16, the U.S. has seen nearly 3.5 million Americans infected with the COVID-19 virus, responsible for the deaths of almost 137,000 Americans to date. Everyone has been affected. We have experienced surges in some locations, while experts also warn of a second wave and how it may impact hospital capacity, schools scheduled to start in fall, businesses and nearly every aspect of our lives. Nationwide, front line health care workers and businesses have stepped up to provide care for the ill and essential goods and services during the pandemic. In states across the American west, Tobacco Beverage Companies LLC has gone the extra mile to protect employees and customers in response to the crisis.
Tobacco Beverage Companies based Boise, Idaho operates four different franchise brands among their 66 retail stores in Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Utah and Arizona. While you might not notice the corporate name, you likely have seen Big Smoke, Tobacco Connection, Vaper’s Alley and Bad Habits franchises if traveling through the northwest or Arizona. The company’s retail stores in five different states worked tirelessly – and immediately – to respond to the crisis, minimize risks to employees and prioritize customers safety as they shopped for essential needs.
Convenience stores were deemed “essential businesses” by the Department of Homeland Security and in executive orders from governors because of the wide variety of items they sell. As businesses closed, Americans were laid off or forced to work from home and schools closed, these retail stores were allowed and encouraged to remain open as a resource for food, beverages, and household items like toilet paper and paper towels for a nation in need. All Tobacco Beverage Companies retail stores except the Vapers Alley stores were deemed essential and have remained open through the crisis.
“We were very proactive and continue to be,” says Andrea Jackson, Tobacco Beverages Company LLC President. “In the first week of April, we distributed masks to each of our 350 employees in five states. We also began training employees on our new COVID-19 Policy that same week highlighting mask requirements, social distancing for customers, regular and frequent sanitization of touch points and a variety of measures recommended by health experts to keep our employees and customers safe.”
While other businesses closed and Americans increasingly became locked down in their homes, Jackson and her employees took a variety of steps to ensure that the company’s retail stores could provide for essential needs. Stores were outfitted with digital thermometers to check all employees upon the start of shifts. They invested funds to install plastic sneeze guards at each register and moved registers six feet apart to observe social distancing. Employees were trained on how to maximize safety through the proper wearing of masks and frequent, thorough hand washing. Door handles, counters, ATMs, credit card payment devices and other surfaces regularly contacted were sanitized hourly to help control the possible spread of infection. Office employees were required to work from home. With lessening restrictions, those employees are now allowed back to the office for staggered day shifts. The company retained a cleaning service for a deep sanitizing clean every night during the work week.
Tobacco Beverage Companies LLC also stepped up for its employees who were accepting some risk while working during the continuing crisis. “Our focus has been on the education and safety of our employees and customers,” says Jackson. “We get a lot of compliments on the measures we’ve taken – and also prioritized acknowledging employees willing to go the extra mile during these challenging times.” Continuously, since March 25, the Company is paying its hourly employees a $2/hour bonus for time worked and salaried employees also receive a $20 per day “thank you bonus” for their willingness to safely serve their communities during difficult times.
Make no mistake, retail convenience stores and gas stations are still suffering. Consumer buying habits have changed. People are visiting stores less frequently, buying less fuel and ancillary items because they are home more often and frequently buying online. Revenues and profits are down, but essential businesses like Tobacco Beverage Companies LLC have been investing time and money to keep employees and communities safe while providing essential products for the public during this global crisis.