SILVER SPRING, Md. (FOX 5 DC) - The owners of a mom and pop-style grocery store in Montgomery County, Maryland, told FOX 5 they have toilet paper and are ready to serve the community with what it needs.
“Produce is incredibly hard to come by, but because I’m not restricted to different venders, I can buy from anybody that I can get and I’ve never run out. I think I have more bananas than anybody in the county right now,” said Jason Kirsch, co-owner of the Corner Market & Pharmacy off of Grubb Rd. in Silver Spring.
Kirsch had boxes of generic-brand toilet paper ready to go. FOX 5 watched a shipment get brought in as we spoke to the owners.
Kirsch says the team has been working ‘round the clock to make sure their shelves are full. The small grocery store also has bins and shelves full of produce, cleaning products and several over-the-counter medications.
The store’s co-owner, Ellie Darj, tells FOX 5 she is a Compound Pharmacist and as one, can make hand sanitizer and has been taking orders for it.
“We’re here for the community. We’re here for the neighborhood. My training as a pharmacist, as a compounding pharmacist, is at the time of crisis to deliver what everybody needs. From the medication to what Jason mentioned, the hand sanitizers. We started our production about two weeks ago as soon as we ran out of the normal branded product,” said Darj.
Their message to the community is: there is hope, don’t panic – and -- independent grocery stores are working to get their communities the items they need.
That same service to the community mentality is what two George Mason University students tell FOX 5, inspired them to create a Facebook page to connect community members during this Coronavirus pandemic.
“It started as like okay, ‘How can we make sure the elderly people down the street have access to toilet paper?’ because we saw people hoarding toilet paper. And then, you know who has what, and where can we find what and how can we help other people really clam their anxiety?” said Rachel Picon.
The Facebook page, “Northern VA COVID-19 Craziness Supply Exchange,” now has more than 5,500 followers and is meant to connect those in Northern VA to stores like the Corner Market and Pharmacy that may have needed supplies across the river – or to people who may be able to help.
They are, of course, encouraging everyone to be cautious as strangers interact online.
“It’s an eye-opening just kind of seeing everyone come together to help out. Everyone is kind of in need together. Seeing everyone work together, it’s a positive thing so it makes us feel like we’re doing justice,” said the Facebook page’s co-creator, Maricza Hinnah.
“For me it’s really cool that we can make a difference,” said Picon, “You know we’re social work students. We’re getting ready to graduate from Mason and that, you know, some people can be positively affected by the work of just two people”
There are rules to joining the group. No price gouging is one. They’re also asking people to stay away from political posts and name-calling.
Back in Silver Spring, Kirsch and Darj are encouraging shoppers to check with your independent markets.
FOX 5 checked and found produce and paper towels at Snider’s Super Foods, another Silver Spring independent grocery store.
Kirsch says they’ve been open on Grubb Rd. since 2016. The store is operating from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. with special hours for seniors to shop on Saturday and Sunday, from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m.