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Businesses, small and large, seeing big impact in new, popular approaches

Published: May. 28, 2020 at 5:28 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Businesses of all sizes have adjusted so shoppers feel comfortable and want to spend- and some have seen a big impact after making adjustments on the fly during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

At Almost Famous Popcorn in Cedar Rapids, owner Bill Rieckhoff has made some changes to his typical daily routine: now, loading up boxes with bags of popcorn as they are prepared to be shipped or delivered has become the new standard.

“Some areas of our business have gone down, other areas of our business have gone up,” Rieckhoff said.

Their mission has not changed prior to and during the pandemic: make every effort to get popcorn to customers. But the pandemic has led most customers to buy mostly in two ways: online and inside grocery stores.

Rieckhoff said, “We went to them and said: ‘hey, what if we set up a little mini popcorn shop inside some of your stores?’”

Among those stores, ten different Hy-Vee locations have similar setups, showcasing Almost Famous Popcorn bags as shoppers walk through the produce and bakery sections.

But even leaders with Hy-Vee admit they had to shift their focus in recent months to a heavier digital approach.

“It’s filling a need for people ... all kinds of people without having to have contact in the store where we have a lot of people coming through our doors,” said Brian Wilken, the Store Manager at the Johnson Ave. Hy-Vee on the northwest side of Cedar Rapids.

It has led to a boom in their online ordering through Hy-Vee Aisles Online, where customers pick what they want through an app or website, but the staff at Hy-Vee do the shopping.

“This store we used to do 200-300 orders a week and it skyrocketed by 500-600-percent,” Wilken said.

With increased demand, Wilken said it has led to increased hiring.

“We certainly have hired some people, we’ve been doing orientations it seems like every week since this thing started just to get people in the pipeline,” Wilken said.

For small business owners like Rieckhoff, it speaks to the need to adapt.

“I think what you have to do is you have to be creative and flexible,” Rieckhoff said.

Copyright 2020 KCRG. All rights reserved.

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