Cape Carteret store

After complaints, Lowe’s Home Improvement has implemented social distancing measures to help control crowds amid the novel coronavirus outbreak. (Elise Clouser photo)

Editor's note: This article was last updated April 8 at 9:39 a.m. to change the headline for clarity.

CAPE CARTERET — The corporation that owns Lowe’s Home Improvement announced policy changes Thursday intended to improve safety for customers in the midst of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The announcement came in the wake of complaints locally and in other areas around the nation. In Carteret County, numerous residents voiced complaints about overcrowding and special crowd-enticing sales at area Lowe’s Home Improvement stores.

Thursday, Lowe’s corporate office website stated, “We developed an app to implement a new customer limit protocol, available now on associates’ handheld devices. Each store manager can now monitor foot traffic and limit entrance based on (Centers for Disease Control) and local guidelines.

“We are enhancing our social distancing protocols by adding dedicated social distancing ambassadors who will be responsible for monitoring customer flow in our garden centers and front-end areas and enforce customer limits to allow proper social distancing,” the statement continued.

The stores have also reduced hours to provide time for product replenishment and to clean and sanitize.

The Lowe’s Cape Carteret and Morehead City stores are closing at 7 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 6 p.m. Sunday.

Also, as of Monday, the Cape Carteret store began limiting the number of people in the garden center to 50 at a time, according to Cape Carteret Commissioner Steve Martin. Morehead City Police Chief Bernette Morris said Tuesday the Morehead City store location had also begun implementing social distancing measures, including putting plexiglass barriers between cashiers and customers.

The News-Times made repeated unsuccessful efforts to contact the Cape Carteret and Morehead City store managers by phone to see if those social distancing measures had been implemented.

Mr. Martin, however, said Lowe’s has also implemented the other measures, with markers indicating where people should stand in cash register lines and has opened up the aisles to create more space.

He also said the store has installed “sneeze barriers” for cashiers and has given employees pay raises.

Mr. Martin said Lowe’s has always been a great community partner.

“We’re in uncharted territory here, and everyone needs to pull together and do all we can to stay at home,” he said.

One Cape Carteret resident and businessman, Andy Wolfe, told the News-Times Saturday that while he understood the business sells essential supplies, such as materials needed by building contractors, plumbers and electricians for residential and commercial repairs, he didn’t understand how “flowers, garden supplies” and similar items can be considered essential. He also targeted home décor items as non-essential.

Mr. Wolfe, who owns Gotta Kill It to Grill It, which sells outdoor apparel and T-shirts, said he’s been concerned about the crowds at the Lowe’s in town.

“Either this (coronavirus) is serious or it isn’t,” he said. “Which is it? Here on the coast, people are sure acting like it’s not.”

Mr. Wolfe noted other big corporations had taken steps to reduce crowds in their stores.

“Walmart finally did it after they got called out,” he said.

Walmart is limiting the number of customers at any given time to 20% of each store’s capacity, implementing social distancing markers and sneeze guards at cash registers and restricting entrances so customers have one way in and out.

“It’s like vacation time down here,” Mr. Wolfe said Saturday. “It’s like the Fourth of July. If … there are hundreds of people packed together, then I’d say the chances are good it’s feeding it (spreading the virus).”

He also said the situation is unfair to small businesses like his.

“I haven’t made a dime in a month,” he added. “I can’t sell my products in stores or shows.”

Small business operators, he said, have bills to pay and families to feed like others who are out of jobs and can’t get unemployment benefits.

Mr. Martin said Lowe’s and other stores deemed essential under Gov. Roy Cooper’s March 27 stay-at-home order are complying, but he’d like to see everyone do more to help.

“Part of this is perception,” he said. “People see all these people coming out with flowers and plants, and they get concerned and frustrated. I understand that, and I understand Andy’s frustrations as a small businessman. I have been one.”

Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email Brad@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.

(43) comments

Sledgehammer2020

[angry] Lowes is just looking like its trying to limit the number of folks shopping. The truth of the matter they encourage people to shop for those Non Essential items. Like Paint, Mulch, flooring or other things they are working on because they are bored.

In regards to the lowes closing early. To clean and restock the store that's a flat out lie. They just changed the schedules for all the employees to leave early instead of staying and cleaning the store and assisting in restocking. The store does a limited to half hearted attempt to actually Sanitize.. It doesn't help, parents bring the entire family into the store. If you need to make an essential purchase, send one member of your family, don't make it an entire family excursion because you're bored at home.

saltydog

If your complaint is that a certain type of business can not be open, I get it. I may not agree with you but I get it. But, if your argument is that a certain business (like Lowes or Walmart) is still open, the answer is simple. If you consider it a hazard, don't go there. If you're following the "stay at home" policy, you needn't worry about what is going on at Lowes.

Sledgehammer2020

No.

I actually work at Lowe's.

They are advertising sales for NON ESSENTIAL ITEMS. They atr promoting for people to shop for non essential goods.

As for cleaning and sanitizing the store. We spend extra time cleaning desks and computers those types of things.

Do you think every Refrigerator or other appliances is fully wiped down all day. Do you think we wipe down every buggy and blue cart all day. It the handles in Hardware for all the drawers with nuts and bolts.

We work in fear of getting sick there as employees. Lowe's dosen't carr about us or the public. If they did they would limit purchases and amount of people in the store.

Shutdownimbecileswithfacts

I would love to know who you are. Seeing how I work there too. And I can put all of your in accurate facts in check.

Kathleen28584

I understand Lowe's needing to sell the essential items to contractors, electricians and plumbers. However, the rest of the store should be blocked off. Instead of taking advantage and running sales on nonessential items to put people at risk, step up. Show you care about our community an it's people by blocking off the aisles and areas that contain nonessential items.

Osprey

If Lowes really wanted to address Covid 19 concerns it would actually sanitize the store and act more proactive rather than reactive from complaints. Has anyone noticed the store to be cleaner than before the Covid 19 period ? Has anyone actually seen staff disinfecting and cleaning ?

Bluestar

I have seen Lowe's personnel spraying disinfectant on shopping carts and the people who were in the store were respectful of distance rules.

Shutdownimbecileswithfacts

Actually yes we have to clean. We have to make sure that all the floors are clean. Dust is wiped down and wiped off. The outside uses Leaf blower’s. And if you honestly think that Walmart Cleans more than Lowes… You are in sane. And Walmart you actually buy food that you put into your mouth.

BigE

Walmart is limiting the number of customers at any given time to 20% of each store’s capacity, implementing social distancing markers and sneeze guards at cash registers and restricting entrances so customers have one way in and out. Brad might want to validate those "Sneeze Guard" at the MHC Walmart !

Sledgehammer2020

I actually work there.

I'm telling you first hand. Yes the wipe the counters down, but they don't wipe every buggy down, blue cart or gray one down. Think of all the drawers in Hardware that have all the nuts and bolts. You really think it's done. Most of us employees are on edge, we need to work or don't get paid, but the rest of the public still comes it like it's a regular shopping experience. Except the few with masks and gloves.

Shutdownimbecileswithfacts

I don’t know who you are but you clearly haven’t been there when we have closed down and cleaned everything. I have personally cleaned I’ll 16. Multiple times. Spraying all of the drawers and everything in the drawers. I go through usually two bottles to three bottles of hepa stat on that one side of the aisle alone.

I know most of the employees there try to take it seriously. There are some ignorant ones there that think it’s a joke. Just like half of the people in the county think it’s a joke. But as for people like me and people in other departments we take that Stuff seriously and we queen. So I don’t know who you’ve been watching. But you should probably turn them into the manager. Because that’s not how it is throughout the whole entire store.

Shutdownimbecileswithfacts

Maybe if you’re that worried about it you should take the two weeks paid leave.

ilovecarteret

Yes, I have seen the cashier areas cleaner. They put up the shields, signs, floor distance markers before this article was printed. Also, I have witnessed cashiers using sanitizing wipes on pens and card terminals after each use. Not sure what else they can do to make is "more" sanitary.

DeadBolt

OH NO! Look everyone, someone's making money! COVID , THE DEMOCRAT DREAM! Simply stay inside and do not go there, that's your best solution, because it won't be long before TRUMP ROLLS OUT ON THIS less then nothing bad dream! TRUMP FOR EVER, bertie, well, go to the rest home.

Shutdownimbecileswithfacts

Seriously how are you going to write a news article without all of the information. It’s easy to go drive by the store and see if all the stuff is being implemented. We have people at the front who are washing every cart before customers take them. We are wearing gloves. We have sneeze guards that we wash almost hourly. We wash all keypads in between every customer. Counters are cleaned constantly. We have constant reminders all around the store to stay 6 feet apart. We also have people controlling the number of customers in and out of the garden center. Using a clicker type counter app. The doors going out to the garden center are completely locked. You can only go in and out in one exit and that’s the front. Nothing to the store. So people have to make two separate purchases if they’re going outside to the garden center. Then they have to come back in and buy a rest of the stuff they need in the store.

I have to say. For a news article and a “reporter”you failed to get all of the facts. That’s truly disappointing. On top of the fact that were using hospital grade cleaners, bleach, Lysol, and hand sanitizer as well as masks and gloves that are provided from corporate. But you guys didn’t once think to add that into the article. And also if you didn’t know we are also doing a mask drive to be able to give to doctors and nurses who need them. As well as some of the associates including myself will be making reusable masks that we can wash. So maybe you should look into your stories a little bit farther instead of just giving up because you can’t contact one person. Another thing that has also been brought to Mr. Wolf’s attention, is the fact that he can sell his products online he does not need to have a flea market or a show to sell online T-shirts. It was also brought to his attention that Lowes is mass hiring to help with people who are down and out and ease the stress on the staff that’s currently working.

Please get all the facts before writing A story that lacks information.

Justthefacts

Maybe your store is. Not all Lowe’s stores are doing that nor are they cleaning every product. There last no one wiping down every cart before another person touches it. Employees are on edge and customers are rude. We just got gloves and masks for the employees. Maybe you have good management but not all the stores are the same!

Shutdownimbecileswithfacts

This article in particular are talking about two specific stores. Morehead in Cape Carteret. In Cape Carteret we are doing a fantastic job. And this is the specific store that Mr. Wolf stood outside of the complained yet he was in there the day before. Complaining about how the lines were too long and he couldn’t check out fast enough. So yes our Lowes is doing amazing. If yours isn’t go to your management. If they don’t do anything, then do something yourself.

DeadBolt

I CANNOT BELIEVE THIS NURSE LIED TO US [ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=egsaI7LkVwA ]

why not

Wow-all these comments - just don't go in there.

dc

Like he said that nurse is Smollett 2.0. Sick. Inflated numbers on our side & deflated on the CCP side. We can now be politically correct & call it the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Virus. Not only is the rest of the world victims but so are their own people. Keeping the Mao communist revolution going & with the help of WHO. Nice to see the UN give them a Human Rights seat at our expense. We have been the dummies they all take us for much too long. Leftists love it.

(Edited by staff.)

Cincy

There is no way to sterilize every item every customer touches before another customer comes along. Seems to me Lowe’s having a annual spring sale during this crisis, bringing in 1000s of people, says all I need to know! And the fact that they are pretending to care now only after they had loads of complaints says even more!

Shutdownimbecileswithfacts

... Lowes has this Sale annually. It wasn’t planned. It wasn’t put fourth just because of this coronavirus. Not all places are as bad as we are. So a whole entire corporate company shutting down a sale because a few places have it worse than others is not possible.

This is a corporate company not a franchise company. Corporate controls everything. Not the store managers. Please educate yourself.

(Edited by staff.)

Cincy

I realize this an annual sale! Other stores also have this annual sale and they canceled it! Let’s keep spreading so all states numbers will go high. Quit making excuses! This was selfish and inconsiderate!

Shutdownimbecileswithfacts

You are clearly extremely on educated. And do not understand how corporate works. once you actually work for a corporation. A big corporation then you can talk.

kee_kel

No one is forcing shoppers at gun point. Take personal responsibility and avoid the store at peak times. Also Lowe’s needs to be a better corporate citizen and stop being greedy. Limit the number of shoppers and allow core hours for at-risk individuals and small businesses.

Shutdownimbecileswithfacts

EXACTLY

DeadBolt

Sorry, AMERICA is Not into Cancel Culture, and if thats your thing, possibly you should go to China? (you know they have a dose of the Chinese Disease). But, i doubt they can produce an ounce of truth. [wink]

Shutdownimbecileswithfacts

🙄🙄🙄

lovethecoast

Weeks before the "Stay-at-Home" order, I was at a Staples in Wilmington, where you could just arrive and ask an employee stationed outside, to go in the store and get the item(s),

-OR- you could send in your order in advance for curb-side pick-up.

It was a wonderful way to minimize possible extra contact.

kathleen mclaughlin

I agree with Mr. Martin's statement. This pandemic is either serious in this area or it isn't.

Shutdownimbecileswithfacts

Or now just hear me out. Maybe if you listen to the CDC you would understand that there are many people who are asymptomatic and show no symptoms. Therefore it is spreading to other people because they feel fine. So yes it is serious for young people pregnant people people with diabetes asthma and other underlying conditions as well as the elderly. Just because it’s not serious to everyone and doesn’t affect everyone the same doesn’t mean it’s not serious. And that something you guys need to understand.

Sledgehammer2020

Lowes could have stopped or changed the annual sale. Sounds like your an ASM or DM. Yes we finally started having someone wipe down and issues buggys, does someone go around all day wiping down all the BLUE CARTS or the LAWN and Garden carts NOPE.

Has the Company done anything to say to the customer, please don't being your entire family to lowes because you're bored. It's not a hang out or meeting place.

The only thing MARVIN Carr's about is Money with all the stock purchases he just made.

Great Advertising and PR, Lowe's is giving its employees off for Easter. Yes the company is, as an UNPAID day off, Unless you can try and make up those hours. What about PPE Mask for us employees. With everything going on, it's a ticking time bomb waiting to go off. What then will the close, No. Just check the cameras and send that department home.

Sledgehammer2020

Quick thought.

Say we keep the buggies clean, the counters and hard surfaces.

What about all the Merchandise on the shelves and the shelves them selves. Say I'm a customer bored and just looking around. I walk over to the Appliance area and start to look at and open refrigerators, is someone walking behind me to make sure its clean, for the family next to me out shopping because they too are bored. There kids touch it and touch there face..

With the amount of flow in the Lowes locations, you think its possible to clean behind everyone.

Oh and the closing at 7pm so we can do extra cleaning and sanitization, how many are staying late to do this. One or two. The rest of us go home early, since the store closes early, out schedules toonhave changed. What was the second part oh yes to help stock and replenish the shelves. That definitely isn't being done, the store looks like a train wreck when we leave and come back the next day.

Shutdownimbecileswithfacts

Again. Maybe you’re not thorough in cleaning in your department. But other departments are. I know quite a few people who go through the isles daily and spray hepa stat on the whole entire aisle on both sides. Just because you’re slacking in your department doesn’t mean other departments in the store or slacking. It most definitely is possible to clean and sanitize most things in the store. If you take the time to do it when you can. As for the Easter thing. You could use your vacation time or holiday time. If you chose not to do that that’s your own fault. And no I am not a manager or an ASM. I am a CSA. Clearly you’re not doing your job right then. Because a lot of people are staying after late stocking shelves. We even have night stockers coming in on the weekends when they’re scheduled off. We have MST people coming in on the weekend when they’re scheduled off. We have people who are cashiers working in different departments to help stock shelves. I’m sorry but you’re either really ignorant or blind.

Sledgehammer2020

Yes.... Gloves and masks available now, for us employees. Masks in very limited quantity though. If we all asked for one a day. Robert would be out of them before Friday. Got one today. ASM made me feel like really you need one why, are you sick.

Lord help.

Everything is getting out of hand. PLEASE, IF IT'S NOT ESSENTIAL STAY HOME, AND IF YOU FEEL YOU REALLY NEED IT. PLEASE DON'T BRING THE ENTIRE FAMILY TO OUR STORE.

Shutdownimbecileswithfacts

If you actually paid attention to anything the CDC has clearly stated that wearing a mask prevent the spread of it. And obviously you’re behind on the news and the CDC that people can still carry it and have it without having symptoms. The mask is to protect other people from getting the virus from asymptomatic people. You obviously need to read up on it.

Sledgehammer2020

[scared]

I haven't seen anyone staying late, but maybe one or two, and really who is volunteering to help at night, sign me up. I'd love to more to nights for a while while this is going on.

So you are telling me, every department is spraying down merchandise on the shelves every day. That's funny. With all the dirt and dust on everything , I have to say that is 100% false. If they were doing that the store wouldn't look like such a mess every morning. Like saying everyone does zone recovery.. lol. Please don't make me laugh any harder.. Back to work and social distancing.

Shutdownimbecileswithfacts

Not one time did I state EVERY department does that. But I know at least 4 for sure. Since I have had to help.

Maybe that means you need to step up and start cleaning better. Obviously from your statement you don’t clean properly.

Sledgehammer2020

Wait.

You said the MST team is working nights. Thatbus false, You said folks are staying Late, What department besides OSLG to move Mulch. Also unsaid folks are working on there days off. False. Cashiers helping to down stock. False. We are short handed in that category, Except for all the new hires. What department is being down stocked. I'd love to know.. I need a good laugh..

Shutdownimbecileswithfacts

You clearly aren’t at the cape Carteret store. And no the MSTs are working WEEKENDS. The store IS having people wipe down ALL carts AS THEY COME IN. I have been on the rotation. When I close I HELP clean all the other departments that need it INCLUDING ALL of the draws info hardware. You don’t need to wipe it down you need to spray it. The disinfectant works better if you let it stay on. MST has been helping home decor paint inside lawn and garden plumbing and more. If you aren’t cleaning properly that on YOU not the store.

Shutdownimbecileswithfacts

Oh so you must be a cashier. That explains why you don’t know how the rest of the store is run.

CARTERETISCORRUPT

All of this bickering about Lowes. No one has to go there. Period.

Sledgehammer2020

Good morning and thank you.

Someone gets it.

Folks, stay home....

Don't take your whole family shopping..

You shouldn't bring your children and toddlers out shopping. You are putting your family at risk taking them shopping.

If you must go shopping, only one member of your household should go. You risk getting your family sick or risk getting others sick. Please stay home unless you must get that bag of mulch.

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