The temporarily tented Jerry’s Cub Food store in South Minneapolis was a lifeline to its many customers when protesters and looters severely damaged its brick-and-mortar building following the death of George Floyd on Memorial Day 2020.
Erected in July in the parking lot, the “Community Market Lake Street,” was in a culturally diverse, low- to moderate-income neighborhood. Cub employees worked hard to see that customers got what they needed.
Fred Hippchen worked there as a cashier and front-end team member from October to February. He then transferred to another Cub Foods in the Uptown neighborhood when the Community Market tent shut down and reopened in its building on February 10.
“We kept everything clean and safe for Cub employees and customers,” said Fred. “I felt very comfortable working with a plexiglass shield at my register, having our temperatures taken frequently, everyone wearing masks, social distancing, and sanitizing.”
Communicating with masks on was somewhat challenging, as English is not the first language of many of Cub’s customers in the Lake Street neighborhood. The acoustics in the tent were also different than being in a building.
“I had to use a lot of hand gestures and reading their wonderfully expressive eyes to converse with people and answer their questions,” said Fred. “But we all made it work.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in the spring of 2020, the Minnesota Twins’ baseball season came to a halt, Fred’s bartending job at Target Field in downtown Minneapolis came to a halt, too.
“So I worked with [Rise Employment Consultant] Kim Aldahl who helped me update my resume, conduct a job search, and apply for jobs online,” said Fred. “I really needed her assistance as I’m not that tech savvy.”
Working for Cub Foods is a job this outgoing, friendly guy really enjoys. Going back to work was important to Fred, who has had Major Depressive Disorder for more than 35 years.
“Working is an important part of my self-care to avoid isolation,” he noted. “Customer service work fits my personality and I really enjoy the public interaction. I feel so much better working with people.”
Ironically, the day after Fred found out that he was not one of those lucky Minnesotans to be selected in the vaccine lottery, he received a call from his HCMC clinic to schedule his shots.