Grocery store manager takes shortages personally

Barb Prost is a nonfood manager at Dierbergs.

By Ellen Futterman, Editor

Think you’re upset that you haven’t been able to score hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes or a thermometer during this pandemic? Well, not being able to get those items and more is something Barb Prost takes personally.

“I’m very particular about my department, and I have a lot of empty spaces on the shelves, and it’s driving me crazy,” said Prost, 55, a nonfood manager in charge of general merchandise at Dierbergs, where she has worked for 33 years. 

“I want to supply my customers with what they need, but unfortunately, we cannot get the products. Hand sanitizer, masks, Tylenol, baby Tylenol. Thermometers – I still can’t get them. It personally bothers me even though there is nothing I can do about it.”

Prost, a wife and mother of three grown daughters, says she also misses chatting with her customers at the Four Seasons store in Chesterfield but has refrained from doing so for safety reasons. That, and the fact that she also wears a mask to do her job, which makes it a little hard to talk, not to mention breathe.

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“Probably the hardest part of all of this is not talking to people,”  said Prost, who attends Congregation B’nai Amoona. “I love my customers, and I know a lot of them. It used to be, ‘Oh, hey, how are you?’ and you would start talking, but you can’t do that anymore. You feel like you’re being rude, but you’re not. You wave from afar and stay away because you want to keep them safe, as well as yourself safe.”

Prost describes herself as a “very positive, laid-back person” and says she never considered taking time off from work during the pandemic, mostly because she really likes what she does and feels fortunate to have a job in this economy. Still, when she first heard grocery employees referred to as “essential workers,” she admits she was taken aback.

“I don’t know if I would have thought of myself as an essential worker before all of this happened,” she said. “But I see now that people have to eat and they need nonfood stuff, like what I am in charge of. 

“Dierbergs sent out thank-you notes to everyone at work, and they keep thanking us. Even some of the customers have walked by and literally said thank you for being here. That makes me feel so good.”