Last Thursday morning Zanotto’s market in Sunnyvale didn’t look much different than any other Thursday morning — except that it was 8 a.m., an hour before regular opening.
It was the extra 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. daily senior shopping hour, reserved for people who are at higher risk of serious complications from COVID-19.
And everyone, it seemed, was lovin’ it.
Sunnyvale resident Gayle Gleim is a regular Zanotto’s shopper. “I feel like I might be better protected here,” she said. “I was very pleased when I heard about the special hours. I said, ‘Yay, that’s my Zanotto’s.’”
Jeff Bautista of Sunnyvale got an extra benefit from his shopping trip that day. “I’ve seen people I haven’t seen in a couple of months,” he said. Some of his shopping that day was for prepared food to cook at home, as one of his favorite take out places, Country Gourmet, is closed.
Bautista is another Zanotto’s regular. “The people are always friendly,” he said. “It’s quick to get in and out.” While staying home, Bautista is still busy with Sunnyvale Lion’s Club.
Santa Clara resident Julie Sparks, a private tutor who’s working online now, was shopping for her parents (83 and 90) in Cupertino.
“It’s hard to get them to let me shop for them,” she said. “They’re very stressed. They’re skipping their once a day car ride.”
Mountain View resident Gil Gilfix stopped in on his way to his favorite bagel shop. The service is really good,” he said. And he “absolutely” likes the special senior hours.
Another regular Zanotto’s shopper, Nicolette Lanch, who describes her life these days as “cloistered,” says she “loves’ the family-owned market.
“They have everything I want,” she said. “I like the extra hour in the morning. It’s not so crowded and they follow all the [health] guidelines.”
Employees like Danine Samide are among the reasons shoppers are so pleased with Zanotto’s these days. Samide cleans the conveyor, counter, scale and keypad and changes gloves between customers.
“It’s a pleasure to serve elderly people and the community,” said the five-year employee. “It’s a pleasure to be part of this family. I know how I would feel if my parents were sick. I want everyone to be safe.”
The bottom line, said store manager Dan Underwood, is that “We’re a family market.
“We think of our stores as community based, so we want to do whatever we can do to make it safer and more convenient,” he said. “The first day was March 16 and I haven’t had a day off since. We’ve hired because even though we have shorter hours, people are still stocking up.
From this vantage point he has a bird’s-eye view of the waves of anxiety buying. The latest panic buys are baking supplies. “We can’t keep yeast on the shelf,” he said.
The special senior hours will continue as long as necessary, Underwood said. “People enjoy it — they’re super grateful we’re doing this.”