How one store has weathered the COVID-19 storm

Scott Rodhe has never seen anything like this in his lifetime. No one has.

The owner of Rodhe’s IGA Marketplace in Millersburg recently talked with Our Ohio Weekly radio program about the impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on his store in northeast Ohio, which has been in operation since 1934. 

Keeping the 35,000-square-foot-building stocked during the COVID-19 crisis has been nothing short of a miracle of the food industry in the state of Ohio and has taken some logistical cooperation to make sure stores around the state — and country — have at least some of the items shoppers want and need. 

“Sometimes you have bad weather, like a blizzard warning, that happens in a certain part of the country,” Rodhe said. “But this? It’s happening all across the nation, and everybody is buying at the same time. It’s just really tough for all the wholesalers to have enough product to get to all the stores.”

Rodhe, who also serves as Holmes County Farm Bureau president, said the first big run on his IGA happened March 12, the day Gov. Mike DeWine declared schools in the state would close beginning the following Monday.

“It started late in the afternoon and that continued throughout the weekend,” he said. “It got busier. Monday the 16th is when it really took off.”

It took four or five days just to catch up on bread deliveries alone after the initial push, he said. 

“It’s not that there isn’t food — it’s being able to get it out to retail locations to customers,” he said. Grocery stores that may have regularly had a half-semi full of product being delivered were now ordering a semi and a half to meet demand. 

“All that takes extra time,” Rodhe said, noting in early April that while the initial rush had slowed down, it still was going to take time for the supply chain to catch up. 

Safety measures

Rodhe follows the COVID-19 safety procedures with employees and customers while he runs his essential business, and he is grateful how everyone has responded to the crisis. 

The IGA store is a family business, with the third and fourth generations of Rodhes working in it.  

“My older brother Kurt is the president and I’m the vice president,” Rodhe said. Various family members also work full and part time at the store. “Without Kurt’s leadership and the collective effort of my family members, as well as all of our store family — our associates — we would never have made it through.”

After the crisis has passed and things go back to a semblance of normalcy, Rodhe said he hopes people know the “American ag community is always there to take care of them. Maybe people will keep a little more in their pantry and appreciate what the American food industry has been able to do for them.” 

Featured Image: Scott Rodhe at the IGA store in Millersburg when Cover Crop launched in 2018.