Alabaster’s Gym Time converted into online grocery store

ALABASTER – Local business owner Jon Fuller has come up with an innovative way to stay open after the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the temporary closure of his fitness center, Gym Time.

It took Fuller just 11 days after the closure of his gym to reopen as Gym Time Market. He purchased a 60-cubic-foot commercial refrigerator, 45-cubic-foot freezer and seven freezer/fridge combos and stocked them with food from food service provider, Sysco. He also has use of a Sysco refrigerator truck.

“I thought, ‘What can I do to not be closed and to help the community,’” Fuller said.

A curbside pick-up grocery store was the answer.

“Right now, no other stores in the area besides WalMart and WalMart Marketplace are offering curbside pick-up,” Fuller said.

After contacting several grocery store suppliers and having no success, Fuller contacted Sysco, which has food to spare since their usual restaurant customers are buying less food these days.

Most of the food sold at Gym Time Market is available in restaurant portions of large and extra-large, which Fuller said may be ideal for families since children are no longer in school and eating all meals at home. Fuller said larger portions will also cut down on the number of trips residents make to the grocery store.

Customers can order their food online by going to Gymtime.fitness and clicking on the Shop link under the Gym Time Market logo. Items are arranged into several categories:
-Produce
-Dairy and eggs
-Canned and dry
-Poultry
-Meats
-Frozen
-Cleaning supplies
-Bread
-Water and juice
-Paper and disposable
-Supplements

In addition to food, the market also carries paper towels, toilet tissue, bleach, non-latex gloves and other cleaning supplies.

“It’s a safer way to buy groceries,” Fuller said. “When we get shipments, no one has handled the food. Our food goes through less hands than it would at a grocery store. You also don’t have to worry about other shoppers picking up food and then putting it back.”

Fuller works with a crew of up to three or four other people, depending on how busy the market is that day. They wear gloves when handling the food and practice social distancing with customers. Fuller said the gym is also sanitized multiple times per day.

When placing their order, customers will be asked if they want to pick up the food as soon as possible or if they want to set up a different time. Fuller said special accommodations can and have been made for essential workers who are only available during certain times.

When customers come to pick up their order, they park in the parking lot and call the gym to let them know they’re outside. Customers are asked to bring a valid driver’s license, government-issued I.D. or show the order email on their phone when picking up their food to ensure the order is being given to the correct person.

The Gym Time staff will load the groceries into the customer’s car and then allow the customer to inspect the food before leaving. No returns will be accepted to prevent cross contamination.

Gym Time Market is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The store is closed on Sundays.

Fuller said he would like to figure out a way to keep the market open even after non-essential businesses are permitted to reopen.

“It would be neat to be able to continue doing this for the community,” he said. “People could buy groceries after working out and it would save them a trip to the grocery store.”

Contact Gym Time Market at 205-624-4040 or online at Gymtime.fitness.