The response to the current business public-health situation from the perspective of 30-plus years in business atop an advanced degree, boiled down to three words: “just stay home.”
Those were Mike Kinkead, the second-generation owner of Kinkead’s Pharmacy and RadioShack’s words when asked to discuss what it was like being an independent small business owner and pharmacist in the time of a what has been called a pandemic.
“If people would just stay home, we could flatten the curve,” he said from the desk at his busy pharmacy.
“It is not ‘if’ many people get infected, it is ‘when,’” he said. “The good news COVID-19 generally doesn’t severely impact people below 60, who are in good health. That’s my understanding of what the CDC says. Although it is dangerous for those over 60 years of age or who have compromised immune system”
Kinkead said the aspect of the Coronavirus that concerns him is its potential for rapid spread.
“You don’t necessarily know you are infected. You can be a carrier and not show symptoms for up to two weeks,” he said. “And for some people, they get it but never get sick, but they can still spread it. You can be a carrier and infect people without knowing it. The solution to it, the easiest way to fight this is to say home.”
There has been a run on some products he said, such as hand sanitizer, alcohol, aloe Vera gel and toilet paper.
Kinkead said the first thing they ran out of was hand sanitizer, then alcohol and aloe Vera gel. “Alcohol and aloe Vera gel are what you can use to make your own hand sanitizer,” he said.
Those were the first items they had to put purchase limits on.
Other pharmacies had shortages quicker than we did, he said.
“But we’ve been kind of far away from the early spread, but as it has gotten closer to us, people have been buying up over the counter flu and flu-symptom related products and we have had to put a purchase limit on them as well,” he said. “Zinc, essential oils, anything that might slow down the flu, that might enhance the immune system.”
Items such as disinfectants are also moving rapidly.
Even with the limits, he said our pharmacy and many other stores are out or almost out of many such items.
“And our suppliers can’t get any more right now,” Kinkead said. “The runs started elsewhere and now our suppliers are telling us they are telling us they don’t have any inventory at this moment… Meanwhile I encourage people to stay home.”
That advice is something he never expected to give in the face of something like this.
“It is incredible that it’s the best medicine and that it’s not good enough. Some people just don’t want to do it. You can be exposed and symptoms not show for up to five days. When you come in contact but the symptoms don’t show, you could be spreading it,” he said. “That is why everybody should comport themselves as if they have it. It is a very contagious disease.”
Kinkead said he was fortunate to have the employees he has.
“Thank goodness I have employees who are able to work. If not, it would be up to my family and I to keep the doors open. It must be horrible for those small businesses who depend on customers who have to depend on customers who are staying home, and can stay home and do without their services. I am lucky that we have a lot of products stockpiled here and capital to make it through an extended downturn.”
For many local businesses, carry out orders and deliveries are the best opportunities to stay in business.
“If you are over 60, we would encourage you to have us deliver to you. We will remain open although we may have to modify the number of individuals in our store if the health department requires it.”