I start my day like many of you. About a mile from my house, right on my drive to work, there is a convenience store. I say hello to Paige, the woman behind the counter, and we chat briefly about the latest news or the weather while I pour a cup of coffee.
I know I’m not alone in this routine. Thousands of Kentuckians begin their day at their local gas station, filling up and buying a cup of coffee, grabbing a breakfast sandwich, and striking up conversations with neighbors. Places like these are lynchpins for our communities and right now those moments, and those convenience stores, feel more important than ever.
Admittedly, my vantage point is a little unique. Since I am the executive director of the Kentucky Petroleum Marketers Association, the association that advocates on behalf of Kentucky’s fuel marketers, gas stations and convenience stores, I spend my day thinking about the importance of businesses just like the one near my house. I see the hard work behind the scenes, from the sweat equity invested into mom and pop locations, to major companies investing millions into our communities. It all comes together to make the routines of daily life possible.
Like everyone, our members are grappling with the coronavirus pandemic. We are doing so understanding our responsibility to the customers and communities we serve and with a commitment to public health in these challenging times.
For starters, we have seen an increase in shoppers who might typically go to a supermarket for their groceries, cleaning supplies, medical supplies, and personal items. This role is a constant for many Kentuckians, particularly those who live 20-30 minutes from a grocery store and have always depended on convenience stores closer to their home to fill some of those shopping needs. With more Kentuckians staying home, and without the ability to dine at restaurants, we are working diligently to make sure every community, in every corner of the state, even far from the center of town, has access to the things they need.
We know that our role comes with a responsibility to you, and we are making sure that promoting good public health is central during this crisis. You may have noticed yourself, or even seen social media posts, about gas station employees all around the state actively cleaning and sanitizing gas pump handles and taking extra precautions with touch pads near the register and other high touch areas in the store. Some locations are even pumping gas for customers, while others promote social distancing in the checkout line and make hand sanitizer available by the register.
Now more than ever we want to do our part, and to continue serving that essential role we take pride in. We are striving to provide essentials for you and your family, promote good hygiene, and eagerly looking forward to the day when this pandemic is behind us. We know that working together, that day will come.
Brian Clark is the Executive Director of The Kentucky Petroleum Marketers Association, a statewide non-profit trade association whose members own and supply more than 3,000 retail fueling facilities in Kentucky. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org