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Honey Bee Market in Detroit Is Temporarily Closing to Give Staff a Paid Vacation

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The Southwest Detroit grocery store is thanking its essential workers after a period of overwhelming demand

A customer walks by the tortilla display in the deli area at Honey Bee.
Employees at Honey Bee are receiving paid time-off for their hard work at the grocery store during the pandemic.
Stock Detroit

While other chain grocers like Kroger are beginning to roll back modest pay increases for employees introduced during the novel coronavirus pandemic, Honey Bee La Colmena in Detroit’s Hubbard-Richard neighborhood is giving its workers paid vacation. Beginning on Memorial Day, the market located on Bagley Street in Southwest plans to close for a six-day employee reset. All staff will be paid to take days off from May 25 through May 31, WDIV reports.

Honey Bee, like many grocers, was overwhelmed by customer demand and increased requirements from the state during the pandemic. Owner Tammy Alfaro-Koehler told MLive in April that the store struggled early on to keep staff who were afraid to come into work. Grocery store workers are considered essential under the state executive order, though they’re particularly at risk for contracting the virus. At least five employees at Michigan Kroger and Meijer stores have reportedly died from COVID-19. A state executive order placing limits on customer capacity for grocery stores helped give employees more peace of mind, Alfaro-Koehler said.

Staff at the store tell WDIV that they were initially buying 100 pound bags of beans and rice — the only volume available — and breaking them down into smaller packages to meet the needs of customers. At the same time, part-time employees in some cases saw their hours double from 30 to 60 hours a week.

In terms of safety, Honey Bee is currently limiting the number of customers in the store and stepping up sanitation of carts and other surfaces. Face masks are mandatory. It’s also removed its complimentary guacamole and salsa samples at the entrance, though customers can still purchase the store’s packaged dips.

Honey Bee’s management says the temporary closure will allow its employees to take a breath and be able to come back refreshed. “Go home, restore yourself, come back with a fresh solid mind, no worries — they are paying us,” says employee Lindsay Lawitzke of the message from Honey Bee’s management.

Eater is tracking the impact of the novel coronavirus on the local food industry. Have a story to share? Reach out at detroit@eater.com.

Detroit’s Honeybee Market to Close for 6 Days, Give Workers Paid Vacation During COVID-19 Pandemic [WDIV]
Detroit Grocery Store Owner Talks About the Difficulty of Social Distancing in Her Store [MLive]
Face Masks Are Required in Grocery Stores Under Michigan’s Updated Stay-at-Home Order [ED]
Gov. Whitmer Extends Michigan’s Stay-at-Home Order and Establishes New Rules for Grocery Stores [ED]
Kroger Offers Employees ‘Thank You’ Bonus After Receiving Criticism for Ending Hero Pay [E]
All Groceries and Retail Coverage [E]

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