Saturday, May 9, 2020

A trip to the city

On Thursday, I did something I haven't done for weeks: I went into the city. I haven't been to Coeur d'Alene for quite a long time, but there were some things I wanted to pick up. Besides, I was curious about what I might see.

My first stop was Costco, where I haven't been since mid-March. People were lined up, a respectful six feet apart from each other. I wore a mask, as required for entry into the store.

A sign posted outside (right next to a Costco employee with a box of complimentary face masks for customers who didn't have their own) listed what was, and wasn't, available.

At the meat department, these signs were posted everywhere.

One thing I didn't think to check were meat prices. I hear they've gone up, but since we seldom buy meat, I forgot to check.

In the freezer section, similar restrictions were posted -- along with prices. Holy cow.

But I did find both tuna and dog food, which were my main reasons for going into Costco.

While paying, I asked the checker when they expected toilet paper back in stock. We have enough for a few more weeks, but I'm on the lookout.

The checker gestured toward the front of the merchandise section. "That whole area was filled with toilet paper last weekend," she told me. "It didn't last long."

Everyone in Costco, customers and employees alike, were polite and cheerful.

Next stop, Cash'n'Carry (now called SmartFoodservice), a wholesale grocery supply store and one of my favorite places to shop. I checked the paper goods aisle. It had major holes, but -- yes! -- it had toilet paper.

With limits, of course.

I picked up two packages of industrial-size TP. Note, these packages cost $11.49 each (you can see the price card two photo above), a bargain considering how much TP is on each roll. Keep this price in mind for a moment.

I noticed gaps on several shelves, such as cleaning supplies...



...and meats.

I passed someone's cart, loaded up with bulk staples.

As with Costco, everyone was polite and cheerful.

By the time I got out of Cash'n'Carry, it was lunch time. Every restaurant I passed had their dining areas closed, but their drive-throughs open. I passed a Wendy's which had a line so long at the drive-through that it actually extended onto the street. I was driving so I couldn't take a picture, but when I stopped at a nearby stoplight, I photographed it in the mirror (which is why the lettering is all backward).

I was very pleased to see the restaurants as busy as they were, even though I'm certain business is still desperately down.

Last stop, Winco, which has the best bulk section in town. I passed some industrial-sized shelves with bulk foods for sale. Evidently there was enough demand for large quantities of staples that Winco was offering the big bags in one convenient spot.

The biggest surprise -- I don't know why it surprised me, but it did -- was in the bulk section. I wanted to pick up some spiral pasta, but to my surprise, every single lidded bulk bin no longer had loose items available for customers to bag up. Instead, they offered pre-bagged portions. Literally the only thing in the spiral pasta bin was a ginormous 25-pound bag of spiral pasta. I shrugged and bought it. Pasta doesn't go bad, and I like spiral pasta for macaroni and cheese. (This photo shows a different pasta bin, not the spiral pasta.)

As with everywhere else, some shelves were conspicuously understocked, such as flour, though there was plenty to be had.

Soup was popular.

And the canning jar section had been raided.

Cleaning supplies were also picked over.

Then, curious, I peeked into the toilet paper aisle. They had some, but clearly it was a popular place.

It also had the obligatory sign.

Then I noticed the prices. Holy cow. Contrary to the "24" on the package, each pack contained six rolls. Six. (Apparently these are "mega rolls" equivalent to 24 smaller rolls or something.)

Now compare this to what I paid at Cash'n'Carry for industrial-sized rolls. Definitely the better bargain at Cash'n'Carry.

As I checked out and bagged my purchases, I fell into conversation with the checker since there were no other customers behind me. In fact, the store was by no means crowded. The checker said things had been crazy-insane through March and April, but had slowed down quite a bit in May. I don't know if this is good or bad.

I photographed the line of checkout lanes on the way out, each one of which was now kitted out with plexiglass barriers for the safety of the cashiers.

So that was my excursion going into town. What are you folks experiencing?


  1. Charmin is the "deluxe" of the TP world and it's a brand I never buy, unless I get it on clearance/close-out AND have a coupon. Even at $9.03 that Charmin would have been a good price for around here in Eastern PA.
    You got a great deal on the industrial sized rolls and I would have bought those as well. ;-)

  2. what toilet paper holder do you use for the industrial size rolls?

    1. We don't have such a holder. Believe me, we don't care. We're just glad to have the TP.

      - Patrice

    2. Hmmmm, yet another home business for Don? ;)

    3. We use Scott and Angel Soft because it is septic safe. How can you tell if the industrial toliet paper is septic safe? I would buy it if it was but don't know how to tell. I saw the Scott and Angel Soft in Consumers Report mag.

    4. Our septic guy said if you put a few sheets in a mason jar filled with water, lidded, then shake a few times. If it stays together it's bad for the septic. If it breaks up it's ok to use with your septic.

    5. If you look on the manufacturer website, it should say somewhere about use in septic systems.

  3. The wife and I were in the local Sams club yesterday and the parking lot was FULL. The store was very busy but not what I expected based on the parking lot. Probably 20% were wearing a mask and only a few had gloves. Aldis nearby was about the same but was busier than normal. Pork was very slim pickings beef was low but chicken was not bad.

  4. I go to the local Food Outlet discount grocery, in the panhandle of Florida.I already have a good supply of TP, (bought in bulk years ago at Sams Club) so was not desperate when I went in April and the shelves were empty. I have noted that since purchase amts are limited there was TP, and meats available.

  5. There's still no need for most of the shortages except for people's selfishness.

    1. I don't agree that it's "selfishness". It would be for those who bought more than they could ever use. But most people are smart enough to "stock up" on important things when facing a crisis. AND even more important a lot of people expected that since most people do not stock up (or prepare) as a way of life when they did decide to take those precautions that the stores would run out of critical items. So it is not selfishness it is awareness. Those who were not aware early on are left to name calling of those who did prepare as being selfish.

  6. Stores here (across the sound from Seattle) are looking the same. Costco had a very limited supply of fresh meat (no fresh chicken except wings, not much pork or beef) and bags of frozen poultry breasts were available, but no dark meat. Toilet paper is a hit or miss depending on when you go but the stores have supplies available. I do appreciate the senior days and hours which allows us to shop without a ton of people being around. The stores have marked aisles one way and have taped lines for distancing. We go out once a week to limit our exposure and have been successful in obtaining what we need so far.

  7. Is the mask requirement a state, town, or store thing? My state talked about requiring them but decided they couldn't legally do it. I haven't kept up on requirements in your neck of the woods.

  8. We have been using the WM pickup for about 6 months but now instead of next day pickup, it's out about 3-4 days. Out of stocks on cleaning supplies, TP, paper napkins. However, we went into the neighborhood WM (basically groceries, household supplies, some health and beauty and pharmacy) and found TP altho limited, no limits on meat/poultry/fish and very well stocked produce. I'd say all those over 50 had masks, younger folks did not. Only saw one person with gloves. I don't touch anything I'm not buying but used hand sanitizer several times while in the store. We stop in that store to buy 'reduced for quick sale' rotisserie chicken of which they had about 12 but nobody but us seemed to be interested. TP has always been about $1 a roll for the mega rolls, now it is about $1.50. I'm stocked up on everything for about 6-9 months except for fresh - celery and peppers and hubby's cream for coffee and his cottage cheese. Parking lots at Sam's, WM, Aldi's and Publix were all about full. Neighbors have said stores are very busy but everyone seems to be taking it in stride. FL is opening up more and more each week, but we intend to still be safe for a very long time. Age and health - in our 70s with some issues - require it.

  9. Have some friends in the meat business that told me mid-March to buy all I could and stack it deep. Filled up 2 freezers until I can get it canned. I'm overfeeding the deer that live behind the house and fattening up squirrels. Fishing for catfish and crappie a lot also. About time for a trip to the coast to bring back as many coolers as I can fill up.

    Seriously considering a Harvest Right freeze dryer but for what they are costing now I don't think it is worth it. Also, if the bottled nitrogen supply gets limited you're screwed. Will be canning all my deer meat and making jerky out of the bad meat cuts. Had to order food saver bags twice and am going to order three times more that I need for the rest of the year.

    We had a heck of a frost in North Carolina hit last night and I don't know what I've lost in the gardens yet. Blue berries, grapes and raspberries may be shot for the year.

    I learned along time ago to hoard dry goods. Thought about setting up a curbside store and selling toilet paper LOLLOL.

    Ya'll stay safe out there and watch your backs.

  10. I have to admit we use Charmin, but the Strong not the Soft. Thats not a bad price for Charmin. We're well stocked though, I picked up a BUNCH on 50% off clearance at my work last year, we're good through fall.

    I work for Home Depot. We can't keep papertowels or TP in stock for more than a couple days. Cleaning products are still stripped bare. If its got disinfecting properties at all it won't stay on the shelf for more than 24hrs. Empty spray bottles are gone, and pump sprayers in smaller sizes are also gone. Also, I hope you don't need to buy a freezer in the near future, we also can't keep them in stock.

    At the grocery stores: the meat section LOOKS fully stocked, till you look at the selection, and realize they've spread to fill. Frozen, pre made stuff, is still half empty. There is NO name brand peanut butter to be had. Eggs and Milk are finally off purchase limits. Dried cereals are in stock, but selections are limited. No paper goods to be had, cleaning supplies are also wiped out. Ziplock bags are empty and have purchase limits.

    The wholesaler I have an account with can't get the less expensive cuts of meat in.

  11. Patrice, The Ravishing Mrs. TB and Na Clann go out for a weekly shopping expedition. It sounds similar to yours, although up to this point they have been controlling entrance into our local Grocery Store; apparently that was lifted last week but masks and "distancing" are still in place. Limits on meat is a relatively new phenomenon (no more than 3 total of fresh cuts, but no limits on processed meats).

    As to other stores - They have occasionally been to The Big Red Dot store with similar experiences. I myself have not been anywhere other than work and my volunteer job since the end of March. I keep thinking I should try going out and support local business, but cannot quite overcome the thought it is maybe still too soon.

  12. About a month ago a neighbor went to Walmart for just a couple of things. She went to the check out with a bottle of cow's milk and a bottle of almond milk. She was told that customers were allowed only one bottle of milk. And here's the kicker--the cashier said that they would have to throw out the second bottle of milk because my neighbor had touched it.

  13. Fort Worth here. I went into Costco at the end of April. They must have just gotten in a shipment of TP as the regular area was full and they had it stacked down the middle of the frozen meat isle and another stack over near electronics. Meat had limits and the prices were a smidgen higher but still not unreasonable. I was able to find big bags of brown sugar, which had been unfindable in WM and other grocers. I bought one and got some more Foodsaver bags and I may now have a lifetime supply of brown sugar.

    In the first few weeks of the shelter period milk and eggs were limited but they are more findable now. A couple of weeks into things meat was really hard to find. I was trying to use the curbside pickup apps but couldn't find any of my regular products. I went in to the store and it was slim pickins. I just had to go through and think, "Can I work with this or that". We have done ok so far.

    Hand sanitizer has to be bought at the liquor store right now. It's not the gel version. It's straight up alcohol rub. I have some spray bottles on order from Amazon so we will have a way to take it with us to sanitize when we're out.

    For the most part I haven't been going out to the store as often as I had been before so my info is a couple of weeks old now but, it seems that things are running ok here. A few shortages and limits but life is do-able.

  14. I would imagine that Winco's bulk section having prepackaged items at this time is to ensure it's not been all cootied up by folks who just stick their hands in the bin or think it's some joke to lick stuff and put it back or cough or spit on it. It's a shame it has to be done but I thank Winco for doing it.

    1. Yes, that's exactly why did did it. I'm not arguing with their reasonsing; it's just the new normal, I guess.

      - Patrice

  15. Michigan is still a mess. No TP in most stores. Limited meat, milk, canned goods, cleaning supplies. Lots of purchase limits on items. Stores with long lines outdoors because they will only let a limited number of people in at any one time, and when the limit is reached, no one else can come in until someone goes out (this is at Lowes, Menards, etc). Tape on the floors telling people which way they can walk through the aisles. All the stores have signs saying no entry without a mask (although some stores put the sign up to be compliant, but don't enforce it - apparently enforcement is down after some Detroit ghetto trash shot and killed a security guard who wouldn't let his daughter in the store without a mask). The idiot governor did finally start letting the grocery stores and home improvement centers reopen their garden centers and sell seeds and plants again. I don't buy meat except for bacon (we raise chickens, ducks, guineas, rabbits, and we hunt deer and turkey, so the freezers are full) - but the local butcher that I buy bacon from - is selling out of fresh bacon so fast if you aren't there in the morning you aren't getting any - I think because the regular grocery stores are out. I expanded the garden and plan on doing more canning than usual, because I don't like what I'm seeing, and I think the shortages are going to get worse before they get better.

  16. Things aren't much different here in Texas. I must say though, I miss our regular Scott toilet paper. T.p. prices have gone up and the stores only have odd brands I've never heard of. The paper is thick and loosely wrapped. Doesn't last long in our family of 8. It's hard to price compare t.p.

  17. I found this article very informative and enjoyed reading what you shared about your shopping experience .
    We are constantly balancing the decision of going out and replenishing the shelves with waiting ....

  18. I live in South Eastern Arizona, our only market is a IGA where they get there beef slaughtered and do there own butchering . So far, no restrictions on any of there meats. Toilet paper , cleaning products and clorox are hit and miss. I also use WM's home delivery , they seem to have huge gaps in what is available , so I check back frequently . We have started a garden and expanded from previous yrs, also getting set up to raise chickens for eggs . Like a previous commenter stated, we don't like the way things are looking for the long term. Have always had a deep pantry , but so far we have not touched it.