Shelves still stocked at Newsoms Butcher Block

Published 4:41 pm Saturday, April 11, 2020

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Fully cooked chicken on display inside one of the Butcher Block’s refrigerators. — Stephen Faleski Tidewater News


Empty store shelves and refrigerators have become common sights since the COVID-19 pandemic reached Virginia in late February, but such is not the case at one small, independent grocery store in Southampton County.

At the Newsoms Butcher Block, which relocated to Newsoms from the nearby town of Boykins in November 2019, refrigerators remain stocked with assorted cuts of beef and chicken, seafood, milk, cheese and fresh vegetables. Bread, paper towels and toilet paper are also available.

“We’re getting meat trucks weekly, sometimes two times a day,” said owner Chris Jernigan. “If we run out of something like boneless chicken, we have other chicken available.”

Jernigan said he relocated his business to Newsoms last year to be closer to the center of the county and closer to the city of Franklin, where a lot of his regular customers live and work. The new location is also a larger building than the one in Boykins, allowing him to carry more stock.

Even paper goods such as paper towels and toilet paper, which have become scarce in some larger grocery stores, remain in stock at the Butcher Block. — Stephen Faleski Tidewater News

Since the pandemic began, he’s seen a notable uptick in customers, and not all are Franklin-Southampton area residents. In fact, his customer base has been getting increasingly further away.

“I’ve had customers from Chesapeake, northern Suffolk,” Jernigan said. “They’ve said they can’t find meat anywhere else.”

He has also implemented several health and safety precautions since the pandemic began, including limiting the number of customers to no more than 10 at a time and placing marks on the floor six feet apart.

“We’re urging people to stand on those marks,” Jernigan said. “We’re cleaning basically all day, wiping down handles, wiping down baskets. We’re taking it serious.

He and all of his employees have also taken to wearing gloves and face masks when working. Those who wish to further reduce their risk can request curbside pickup.

“If you’ve got a bunch of children, we’ll take it out to the car for you,” Jernigan said, explaining that he and his employees have been encouraging families to send only one person inside the store to shop.