Serving Berthoud: Hays Market focuses on customer service, giving back
By Shelley Widhalm
Hays Market wants to make sure customers feel welcome, to keep things local and to provide great service—and this is important especially now during the pandemic.
“We’re just staying open to have a place where the community can go shop,” said Neal Hays, co-owner of the Hays Market stores in Berthoud and Johnstown with his brothers, Ryan and Russell. “We’re still giving our high standard of customer service that we always have.”
The store in Berthoud is at 919 Mountain Ave. in the Berthoud Village Shopping Center, and theone in Johnstown is at 201 Johnstown Center Drive. During the stay-at-home executive order except for essential services, the two stores shortened their hours to 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. On Tuesday and Friday, the stores open at 6 a.m. for the older and higher risk populations but have not set an age limit.
“We’re not defining it, and we’re not monitoring it,” Hays said. “It’s an honor system.”
Like other grocery stores in the area, the two stores got hard hit in mid-March for a couple of weeks from panic buying in response to the pandemic. Customers bought up paper products, cleaning supplies and essentials like bread, milk and eggs. Since then, the stores have been able to keep the shelves stocked, though manufacturers are behind on production of paper products and cleaning supplies, Hays said, adding that the stores increased staff hours to help with the stocking.
The two stores also are cleaning and disinfecting. They installed sneeze guards in front of the deli and cash registers and added portable washing sinks in the front, asking customers to wash their hands before they enter. The wearing of masks, however, is optional for employees.
“Right now, we’re leaving it up to employees whether they want to wear the masks or not,” Hays said.
Hays Market provides customer and community service in other ways by donating to local schools and nonprofits. The company is a major sponsor of the annual Berthoud Bash fundraiser for Berthoud schools and Berthoud Habitat for Humanity’s annual auction, donating a year’s supply of groceries for some of the auction winners. The company also donates goods and products to nonprofits for their various fundraisers. And it hosts the Loveland Rotary KidsPak annual City Wide Food Drive, allowing volunteers to set up tables and collect food donations that supply weekend food packs for children in need in Thompson School District.
“Without the community, we wouldn’t have a business,” Hays said. “It’s a give and take between the community and businesses in town. They support us, and we need to give back to the community that we’re in.”
Hays and his brothers as fourth-generation owners of the store are following the tradition of giving initiated by their family, which founded the store in 1929 in Johnstown and opened the Berthoud location in 2001.
“I just love giving back,” Hays said. “It’s always been a major part of our business.”
The Hays brothers, who grew up in the business, attended college and returned from 1996 to 2000 to operate the store after their parents, Rick and Sally, retired. They find that their approach to customer service and having a personal relationship with their customers is what sets them apart, Hays said.
“We’re just taking care of their needs and making sure they feel welcome when they come in,” Hays said.
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