By Jana Christian
LAKEWOOD, OHIO – After nearly five days without power, the doors reopened at Nature’s Bin on Sunday morning at 9am. Empty freezers and some “holes” in perishable inventory marked the only significant change in normal operations for the Lakewood, Ohio based natural and organic food store. Throughout the ordeal, Facebook posts kept loyal customers updated on the progress of restoring electricity and restocking the shelves.
Nature’s Bin is an asset to the gluten-free community not only because of their selection, but also their customer service. In this crisis situation, the organization responded with generosity. “Our staff was phenomenal, “ explains Mary Johnson, Assistant Executive Director at Nature’s Bin. “They stayed when the lights went out, moving product to different coolers to keep it cold.”
Frozen items such as fruit, vegetables and pastas were the first to begin defrosting. Rather than throw out the product, Nature’s Bin donated it to St. Augustine Hunger Center in Cleveland before it completely thawed. Although every effort was made to save inventory by filling coolers with dry ice, officials did not know when power would be restored. “We didn’t want food to go to waste,” Johnson shared. “Many of the items in question had a shelf life that we needed to respect and could be used by people in need.” As a result, additional donations were made to the Lakewood Division of Aging and the American Red Cross Emergency Shelter at Garfield Middle School proving what an asset Nature’s Bin is to the community.
As is often the case in a crisis situation, the staff of Nature’s Bin really “pulled together” to get the doors open when the power was restored. Johnson commented, “I can’t stress enough how hard our staff worked to make sure we were able to get things back on the shelves and welcome customers as soon as possible.”
Their hard work paid off as customers entered the doors Sunday morning with little to indicate the extent of the loss from Superstorm Sandy. Freezer inventory will begin arriving at the end of the week and will be restocked throughout the weekend. And today Johnson reports, “The deli case is full and fresh and people are cooking up a storm!”