Our new floors!
Last year, our floor project started on this day. Little did we know what it would entail – which was probably a good thing! I think we still would have gone ahead with the project, but without the same feeling of anticipation and excitement. A little more dread.
Going back, we’d been looking for a “fix” for our floor problem for a few years. The two additions to the store created seams in the concrete slab which shifted with the cold and warm seasons. The tiles over those seams also shifted, and after several years, cracked. Most people did not notice; twice a year we totally stripped the floors and refinished them so they did look pretty good.
Jim Perry from Carpet One in Jacksonport was looking for a new kind of tile with a little flexibility; we also mentioned that we liked concrete floors. He brought us some tile samples, then said he knew some guys who were refinishing existing poured concrete floors. Eric and Tom Feurstein came to take a look and show us what was possible – and of course, we chose the more difficult option for the floors!
We decided to start right after the Thanksgiving weekend. The work was to be done after we closed every night; they predicted it would take 3 weeks. We decided to start at the back(highway side) of the store and work to the front. That would give the guys a better chance to figure out the timing and a pattern – we had a fair amount of work to do to prep the areas they were working on each night.
The plan was simple. Lift the gondolas (shelves) off the ground, put them on wheels and move them out of the way. Remove the existing tile, grind the concrete slab until it was smooth, stain the concrete, then seal and polish it. Voila – done.
Anyone who was here during the month of December knows that it was not quite that simple. Our staff worked so hard every day to empty the shelves, move the product onto pallets or carts ( and remember where everything was stashed), then restock the shelves and clean, clean, clean. There was so much dust; my throat was so dry all the time! Every winter, every shelf in the store is emptied and washed, but we never took the bottom shelves off and cleaned underneath them. We did now. Bert and Bruce led that part of the process, and it was a ton of work! Our backroom was set up with sawhorses, shopvacs and lots of pails of water – but every bottom shelf in the store was washed.
Steve was the project coordinator. Every morning he’d get a progress update and the plan for the upcoming evening. Which gondolas to unstock, which to restock, where they planned to strip, grind, stain or polish that evening. I often came to the store before 8:00 am to talk to the guys; some mornings it was very interesting! One morning, the entire juice & canned vegetable aisle was in front of the dairy case! We usually opened on time, but the early morning customers often had to navigate equipment and aisles on wheels in strange places!
As the completed floors moved towards the front of the store – and the wine department – things got more interesting. We were a little worried about moving the gondola with wine bottles on the shelf and ultimately decided to almost empty that entire aisle. Steve figured out that we could fill milk crates with wine bottles and stack them 4 high on a pallet – so we had pallets of wine in milk crates all over the store for about a week. We did not break one bottle in the entire moving process! The floor guys were very happy about that!
By the week of Christmas, the floors were still not completely done. We needed to get the store ready for Christmas and New Year’s – so we sent the guys home. They came back in January for another week and finished the project – and we dusted. And dusted. And then more. Ceiling vents, light fixtures, tops of cases – you name it, it had dust on it! But the floors were beautiful!
The funniest thing about the entire process was the reaction from our customers. Some took a big interest in the project and followed the progress very closely. And commented on the results – most, favorably! Some realized something was going on, but couldn’t quite figure out what. And then we had some people who did not seem to notice that anything was amiss at all. Even when aisles were crooked and definitely askew, and product was on pallets or in carts all over the store!
We were so grateful to our customers during the project. They were patient and interested and didn’t mind when we had to hunt down the flour and sugar for them! They walked around the pails and equipment and were incredibly tolerant of the chaos.
Everyone working today is reminiscing about last year. We are all very thankful we don’t have to do that again! Ever! And we still love our new floors.