Safe Shopping

Sundae Horn
Variety Store owner Tommy Hutcherson displays store policies and models one type of mask available for sale.
Variety Store owner Tommy Hutcherson displays store policies and models one type of mask available for sale.

The Variety Store announces: New Season, New Rules

With visitors returning to the island today, the Variety Store has posted new policies to meet the challenges of safe shopping. These new season rules went into effect long before I was awake this morning.

Are you old? Immunocompromised? There's a time just for you! The Variety Store is opening super early at 6:30am–7:30 for elderly (60+) and high-risk customers ONLY. Face coverings *must* be worn at all times. 

The rest of us can shop between 7:30am–8:00pm when the store is open to the publicFace masks are HIGHLY encouraged! 

The hardware store is open 8am–5pm daily. 

Pop on in to the Variety Store for milk, eggs, meat, cheese, fresh produce, sunscreen, beach gear, beer, ice cream, frozen pizza, and pretty much anything else you think you might need. It they don't have it, you can probably do without. 

And, of course, you can purchase a facemask right at the counter! 

Your face covering protects others, so wearing a mask is the respectful and considerate thing to do. You'll be doing your part to protect Ocracoke (which hasn't has a confirmed coronavirus case yet) and when Ocracoke residents wear our masks, we'll be protecting you from all the virus-y bits we might be carrying without even knowing. 

Safe Shopping

The Ocracoke Variety Store is a mainstay of our island community. It's the island's only grocery store and the only hardware store. It's one of the two place (the other being the post office) where almost everyone goes. Before the pandemic, my family members went to the Variety Store anytime we felt like – and we usually felt like it 3 or 4 times a day. Leaving the house and going to the grocery store for just one item might be inconvenient where you live, but on Ocracoke it's a very quick and easy errand unless you run into five people you need to talk to. 

In spite of being flooded in Dorian, the Variety Store was up and running within days of the storm. The Variety Store's broken light-up sign became a symbol of community resilience when friends spray-painted plywood with #OcracokeStrong to replace it.

Owner Tommy Hutcherson runs the store and volunteers in the community. He and his mother, Julia, are generous in helping good causes; they even donated the land for the OVFD firehouse. They contribute to the Firemen's Ball, and Tommy plays drums with the Ocracoke Rockers. He's also the board president of WOVV community radio and serves on the Ocracoke Emergency Control Group. 

So in the wake of COVID-19 anxiety and public health recommendations, it's no surprise that Tommy and the Variety Store staff rose to the occasion to keep Ocracoke residents safe. It was even well-stocked with toilet paper when hoarding was clearing shelves everywhere else! The staff wear face masks and the cashiers work behind plexiglass barriers for their safety and yours. During the shutdown, Tommy took text orders for groceries and sundries, delivering groceries to cars so that concerned customers didn't have to enter the store. We're all learning to be flexible and adapt to new public hrealth recommendations from experts.

The Hyde County Health Department recommends the 3 W's of staying safe:

  • WEAR a mask or facial covering.
  • WAIT at least 6' apart. Avoid close contact. 
  • WASH your hands often or use hand sanitizer.

Today, Ocracoke adds a 4th W: WELCOME! 




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