COVID-19 Update | November 30, 2020

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, Cook County Whole Foods Co-op continues to take steps to keep shoppers and staff safe. We still limit the number of shoppers in the store to 12 people. As we head into winter, there are fewer shoppers so we no longer need someone at the door every minute that we’re open, but I can assure you that we continue to sanitize carts and baskets. We also sanitize high touch areas and ask everyone to wear a mask and to remain socially distanced from other shoppers and staff. We also provide hand sanitizer and cart sanitation supplies in the entryway. Please feel free to sanitize your cart for added protection.

Below are some answers to frequently asked questions regarding COVID-19 and Cook County Whole Foods Co-op. Please email or call Jennifer Stoltz at jennifer@cookcounty.coop or 218-387-2503 with any questions or concerns.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why did you remove the one way arrows on the floor?
We chose to remove the one way arrows on the floor for a number of reasons. They created a bottle neck of traffic in the produce department and increased the amount of time that people needed to stay in the store. Also, many customers ignored (or forgot about) the arrows which created conflicts and confrontations between shoppers. If someone just wants to buy a few items in the deli, it is safer and faster for them to go directly to the deli versus having to walk through the entire store.

Why are you allowing couples or multiple people in the store together?
When we initially reopened, we limited the number of people per household to one person. This policy was received poorly by many customers which led to confrontations at the door and stressed out staff who tried to get customers to comply with this policy. As shopper numbers declined, we were able to maintain the 12 people in the store at a time rule while allowing couples to shop together. We count couples as two people so the store should not get overly crowded.

Why do I have to place curbside orders a day ahead, and why are curbside orders only available Mondays-Fridays?
We need the orders a day ahead because we pick and pack curbside orders in the morning before we open. If we shopped for them while open, there would be too many people in the store, and it would create lines at the checkout counters. Curbside orders take a great deal of time to pick and pack. On busy mornings, all staff get involved to make sure that all of the orders are filled. We do not have as many staff working during the weekends since we do not have any incoming food deliveries. There is no way to insure that we would be able to complete curbside orders on weekends. Furthermore, we are asking staff to stay home and get tested even if they have the most mild of symptoms such as a runny nose or sore throat. This means that we have multiple employee absences a day which is another reason why we have chosen to limit curbside pick up to Mondays-Fridays.

When are you going to bring back the scoop bulk bins?
Bulk scoop bins are difficult to maintain. We do not have the capacity to regularly change out bins and scoops which is the only way to keep the department safe. In the meantime, we have brought back special orders so you can order in bulk to reduce packaging.

When will you be able to sell hot soup?
As is the case with the scoop bulk bins, self-serve soup wells are difficult to keep sanitized and clean. We are now selling wrapped hot sandwiches and food items out of the wells. We offer our deli soup in the freezer section. They are now in microwave safe containers so you can defrost and heat them up fairly quickly.

How do I place an online order?
A link to WebCart, our online ordering system, is available at www.cookcounty.coop. This includes instructions for how to use the site. If you are having trouble logging into your owner account, please contact us at info@cookcounty.coop or 218-387-2503 so we can update your email address and phone number. When placing your order, please let us know if you would like substitutions, and let us know which substitutions are acceptable. Be as specific as possible. All of the products on our shelves are not listed in WebCart. You are able to add items to your cart that you cannot find by clicking the Can’t Find Something button in your shopping cart. You can then type in what you are looking for.

Why are the restrooms closed?
We have chosen to keep our restrooms closed for a couple of reasons. Since we are only allowing 12 people in the store at a time, we want to move people through the store as quickly as possible. Also, sanitizing the store takes a lot of time. We have closed off areas of the store to the public to reduce the amount of cleaning that we have to do throughout the day.

Can I bring in my own reusable bags and containers?
Yes, we are now allowing people to bring in their own clean reusable bags and containers. Please bag your own groceries when using a reusable bag.

What are the best days and times to shop to avoid crowds?
There are fewer shoppers in the store first thing in the morning, the last hour that we’re open, and there’s often a lull around 2:00. You may want to avoid shopping on Tuesdays and Fridays. We receive large deliveries on those days so aisles can get crowded with additional staff stocking shelves.