Country Living Series

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Shopping trip

I took a shopping trip into the city last Monday. I was kinda on autopilot (I hate shopping), following the list in my hand without much thought as I made stops at my three usual places: Costco, Cash'n'Carry (now called Smart Food Service), and Winco.

At Costco, they had toilet paper (but not the Kirkland brand, my preferred choice). Also, I wanted to pick up two jugs of laundry detergent, but was limited to one. (Why, I don't know.) Needless to say, anti-bacterial wet wipes were out of the question.

It wasn't until I was at Cash'n'Carry (a wholesale restaurant-supply store), trying to find a jug of dish soap, that I snapped out of autopilot and realized there were a lot of empty shelves. A lot. Here are the big gaping holes where the dish soap normally is:


I also couldn't find a bulk bag of red lentils. After seeking the assistance of a store clerk -- and after he pointed out the empty shelf where the lentils would normally be -- I inquired why the store was so bare. "Well, we're expecting a shipment in tomorrow," he explained, then added, "but we're not getting everything we order."

This was confirmed by a different clerk, explaining to another customer that they're "lucky" to get in 75 percent of what they order.

So I went back through the store and photographed some of what I saw (or rather, didn't see). Sorry for the blurry photos, I was trying not to be too obvious with the camera.












Then I moved on to Winco, where most of my purchases were in the (fully stocked) bulk section. But, curious, I wandered by the meat department and saw this:




So there you go. That was my monthly shopping trip.

35 comments:

  1. I wonder how much is due to truckers refusing to haul out of out-of-control cities.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Looks like the Walmart meat department here. Sam's is a little better. Costco - not open here (yet). I have been told the butcher shops are a year behind. Natokadn

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am now curious, I know there are only a couple of Costco locations in ND (daughter lives there, we are strongly considering it. She is in-between Williston & Minot. I don't mean to hijack Patrice's post, but, do you have any advise for a couple of middle-age empty nesters who want to escape Colorado and be closer to grandchildren?

      Delete
    2. Buy a motor home or trailer and become "full timers". Spend the summers and late spring and early fall near your grandkids and the rest of the year in the SouthWest making Phoenix your home base.

      Delete
    3. I wish we could just full-time RV it. We are still working, and have about 10 years to go before retirement. We "escaped" California (we lived in a pretty rural area, but it was growing)and moved to Colorado. Well, because of work, we got stuck in a city. I make a terrible city slicker. Since we are getting a little older, it is time to find a place where we can be permanent, well, except for travel.

      Delete
  3. Sounds like my shopping trips as we live in the same area. Only I substitute Home Depot & Not Big R (it used to be Big R and I can never remember it’s new name) for winco. I usually go to winco in Moscow as it is much calmer down there. Especially with the universities basically closed.

    ReplyDelete
  4. So do you think consumers are buying more than normal to prepare for another lockdown or is the collective shopping like normal and the suppliers just aren't keeping up?

    I suspect we are in for another run on the stores as we get close to the election.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Post Alley CrackpotJuly 27, 2020 at 8:23 PM

      The short answer: Yes.

      Most people don't appreciate that the "stocked shelves" of any grocery store are typically the result of an illusion created by just-in-time manufacturing and supply processes.

      During "normal" times under this maintained illusion, inventory arrives just-in-time to fill gaps that were created by the activity of shopping.

      In the past these "methodologies" worked so well that people came to expect fully supplied grocery stores and shops because that seemed normal, even though there were all sorts of things going on behind the scenes to make those illusions appear real.

      It's like that meme with the Joker: it's not that things are getting weirder, it's that you're just noticing how weird they always were.

      "I suspect we are in for another run on the stores as we get close to the election."

      Correlation does not necessarily imply causation: this would be happening anyway because there are no countervailing forces that would restore the illusions of market rationality and clear expectations.

      Individuals are making alternate choices that are affecting manufacturing and supply chains all the way back to commodities.

      Most of the time the multiple inter-linked economies don't attempt to pivot on a point because they don't have to.

      Why do you think gold, silver, and ammo are selling so incredibly well right now?

      Delete
  5. My first trip to walmart (since April) yesterday, much empty shelf space. Very disorganized, no prices on shelves that corresponded to items there. Half my list not in stock. Store was dirty, and full of frowning shoppers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's my usual Wal-Mart experience, even before Covid craziness. 😕

      Delete
  6. Has the thought crossed your mind that perhaps the idea to sell the homestead, sell all your livestock, drop gardening as a major daily activity, etc.; was perhaps poorly timed? With the current condition of the economy, supply chains, rapidly increasing inflation, mob rule in the cities, signs of financial collapse, etc. - perhaps the best thing you could do is to hunker down with what you have available to you and do a serious reevaluation of your plans to start all over somewhere else. Now is not the time to be starting from scratch even with all you have learned from your experience in Northern Idaho. My thoughts are that it's going to get a lot worse before it starts getting any better. We are not as young as we once were and things get harder to do every day once you are over seventy.

    Just a thought, with no malice intended. I've already completed my reevaluation and decided it's in my best interest to stay put and keep on keeping on.

    Regards,
    Pete in Texas

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pete, I totally agree with you. My wife and I were going to sell our 4 acre estate and move down south. Glad we didn't do it. I never would have guessed that staying put would turn out to be the right choice. We're in the process of setting up a chicken coop, already put in a garden as well as made ourselves lead a more sustainable lifestyle.
      Charlie Haven

      Delete
  7. A report from Chicago. I have a Target, and three big chain regional grocery stores by me. The vast majority of stuff is stocked. Some staples are running lowish (dried goods, pb and jelly etc), but not out. The target has limits on paper goods again.

    The goods that are running low are more than likely due to people anticipating another shutdown.



    ReplyDelete
  8. I, too, hate to shop. At my last monthly stock up shopping trip, I noticed bare or depleted shelves as well.

    Hubby went into the local bait and tackle store. It was pretty picked over too. The clerk told him they are only receiving 10% of what they order.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Are you sure you guys really want to move in times like these? If you guys move, will you already have established relationships in the area of you choice, or will you already know and trust your neighbors? In times like these, community is so important. I have a feeling that no matter who wins the election, our country is going to face troubling times. Having ivestock and a farm will be a huge asset in times such as these.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I went to Walmart for the first time since all this started. I did find a few canning supplies (lids!). But some of the grocery aisles had a lot of empty spaces. Since I have been doing curbside pick up at other stores, I was a bit surprised by how little there was.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I'm afraid it's only going to get worse too. In the local store where I shop they cannot seem to get more than a mediocre shipment of windex refills of all things, and then only every other month or so. In March you couldn't find a sheet of TP, now they got it overflowing the loading dock. As gov. realizes this is the ultimate control over the populace the shortages will only increase to say nothing about the increasing dependance upon "other countries" to supply us with not all, but a greater proportion of our basic necessities as well as the materials that make up basic necessities that are still mfg right there in the US.
    And with all the lame governors in their insane lockdown paranoia driven unconstitutional edicts, running rampant, be thankful for what you have and invest heavily on self sufficiency. As I see it, it's the only way through this mess.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Just went to Walmart the other day for the first time since March and was shocked at how empty the store was. It looked just like Patrice's photos. I couldn't believe the things that were unavailable. I dont shop very often because I can and garden and we live off that for weeks at a time. I think it is only going to get worse if you look around the world. We don't have the best relations with China right now and so many of our products come from there. China has also had massive flooding recently destroying millions of acres of crops. If their people are starving they aren't going to allow product to be shipped overseas, are they? Also half of Africa has had all their crops destroyed due to massive amounts of locust. It is almost biblical. Those same locust swarms have hit China and South and Central America. The next couple of years is going to see less food for the people of the world. Starvation is going to happen. Best to buy what you can and prepare now. America is not immune to all of this.

    ReplyDelete
  13. My Walmart (Central Oregon) has everything stocked, no empty shelves. I live 30 miles from Walmart so I only go there once a week or less. The local grocery stores can be hit or miss. I plan my shopping for most perishables to midweek and mid afternoon. These stores get delivers in the morning and slowly stock the shelves during the day. Whereas Walmart typically get's deliveries overnight and stocks quickly overnight and early morning is best for them. Midweek seems best for most stores. I pretty much find everything I need or want but the cost is typically higher than it was 6 months ago.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I do not go out a lot for shopping, but my general observation is that things are more spaced out. We live in a large urban area and at our local Grocery Chain, I did not observe any major gaping holes (although to be fair, I was not paying that much attention). I will be more observant the next time.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Maybe those who fought over toilet paper and bash preppers are hoarders now.
    Montana Guy

    ReplyDelete
  16. These are the same 3 stores I shop, although I come down from the north. The shelves have appeared populated, but not with the things I usually buy.

    Costco has Peanut butter, but not Jif crunchy. No more canned beef or pork (they seem to rotate). No more selection of canned soup, in fact, no soup at all.

    Walmart has toilet paper, but off brands. Same for canned vegetables, I see what I would usually see at a Dollar Tree. Poor selection overall.

    My husband drives refrigerator trucks. He hasn't heard anything about truck drivers refusing to deliver, but did just call me to advise that I double our stock. China's flooding has destroyed half of their food supply, in addition to all of the other woes going on right now...

    ReplyDelete
  17. The supply chain seems to be really off kilter right now. Our stores (north central Florida) had napkins a couple weeks ago--now none anywhere. No rubbing alcohol, peroxide, disinfecting wipes, etc., though hand sanitizer seems to be making a comeback. Random shortages of certain cuts of meat. Antacids are in very low supply (I need some while pregnant, dang it!), baking powder, flour (sometimes available, sometimes not), lots of bare spots in the pasta and canned veggies section. It also bothers me how rude people are now that masks are mandatory in the county I shop in. Usually everyone is very friendly (this is the south, after all), but when masked there seems to be a general lack of human courtesy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was just out your way yesterday if you are in the Madison area! I'm in northeast Florida and our supply is...interesting. Canned goods are *very* sparse both in the local Winn-Dixie and Walmart although they are spacing them out to make the shelves look less empty. Cleaning supplies/soap are iffy. There are no disinfectants. Meat supplies vary, the lunch meats for sandwiches are gone, but we occasionally have rice back in stock along with some beans.

      I was so alarmed at the paucity I observed that I contacted friends in Idaho and Texas to see how well their stores were supplied. Sadly, about as well as "my" stores.

      Since my hens are giving me @ 7 dozen eggs a week, I suppose that I will be eating eggs (and chickens) a LOT this winter.

      Delete
  18. Be thankful you still have your place Patrice. It is ugly out there. A steer, pig and chickens will look mighty good in the future 👍

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, not having to live in a place where rioters are burning down people's livelihoods and property with the acquiescence of the government is priceless!

      Delete
  19. About 2 years ago, my sister was in the local grocery store (Raleys, Northern CA), and was looking for a certain brand of an item. The store has recently gone through a remodel to give it a more “bistro “ feel. My sister asked a person stocking the shelves for the brand item and the person answered “we don’t carry it anymore.” My sister looked around, noticed the aisles were much wider, seating area near the bakery/deli counter was much larger, and had 3 tables as opposed to 2, and they were spaced out, not crammed together as was the previous area. This store has remodeled the inside, and did not add anything to the actual building. She asked the clerk about the changes that she noticed and then mentioned that the shelving units seemed smaller. She also asked why the brand item had been dropped from inventory. The answer was shocking. “The management decided that people don’t need as many choices of products. So the shelves are smaller, the seating area is bigger and the management has decided to only carry the store brand and a couple of the brands. It is that way through out the store.”
    A few months go by and we notice that Wal-Mart has done the same thing in all of it’s stores. And Wal-Mart has locked up a lot of the items in their stores. You can look at something through the glass, and then you have to push a button to call someone, wait for a while and then when an associate shows , ask them to get it for you then they walk it to the register where you can finally purchase it.
    My sister spent a year in Siberia in the late 90s and said that was exactly how shopping was over there. No choices, everything locked up, someone has to get it for you. Over the last couple of months, we are seeing the same thing happen all over the 3 states that we spend a lot of time in, Oregon, California, and Idaho. I believe it is an “easing into socialism”because we won’t fight it if we think there is a “good” reason for the lack of inventory. By the way, as you know, “As California goes, so goes the nation”!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Wal-Mart has locked up a lot of the items in their stores." This is not true everywhere. In fact this is a bellweather telling you that your city is no becoming unsafe. The next thing you will discover is when it get's really bad that your local news will report that a crowd of "teens" destroyed your local mall or Walmart.

      Delete
    2. Actually, I travel 3 western states, extensively and the stores look the same throughout. California Walmart stores have a larger variety of inventory locked up but the other states have items locked up also.

      Delete
  20. About 2 years ago, my sister was in the local grocery store (Raleys, Northern CA), and was looking for a certain brand of an item. The store has recently gone through a remodel to give it a more “bistro “ feel. My sister asked a person stocking the shelves for the brand item and the person answered “we don’t carry it anymore.” My sister looked around, noticed the aisles were much wider, seating area near the bakery/deli counter was much larger, and had 3 tables as opposed to 2, and they were spaced out, not crammed together as was the previous area. This store has remodeled the inside, and did not add anything to the actual building. She asked the clerk about the changes that she noticed and then mentioned that the shelving units seemed smaller. She also asked why the brand item had been dropped from inventory. The answer was shocking. “The management decided that people don’t need as many choices of products. So the shelves are smaller, the seating area is bigger and the management has decided to only carry the store brand and a couple of the brands. It is that way through out the store.”
    A few months go by and we notice that Wal-Mart has done the same thing in all of it’s stores. And Wal-Mart has locked up a lot of the items in their stores. You can look at something through the glass, and then you have to push a button to call someone, wait for a while and then when an associate shows , ask them to get it for you then they walk it to the register where you can finally purchase it.
    My sister spent a year in Siberia in the late 90s and said that was exactly how shopping was over there. No choices, everything locked up, someone has to get it for you. Over the last couple of months, we are seeing the same thing happen all over the 3 states that we spend a lot of time in, Oregon, California, and Idaho. I believe it is an “easing into socialism”because we won’t fight it if we think there is a “good” reason for the lack of inventory. By the way, as you know, “As California goes, so goes the nation”!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Shopped yesterday at Walmart & Raleys:empty shelves and poor selections both places. Raleys had a better selection of meat. I told the Walmart meat manager that I will NOT buy Smithfield pork products since it is butchered and wrapped in China & then shipped over here. He just shrugged. I wanted to pick up canned beans & vegetables yesterday. Walmart had one item-pork & beans. No green beans, no garbanzos, nothing!! Raleys had some canned veggies, but not a big choice. I thought, either I'm going crazy or we are practicing to be Moscow circa 1980. My girlfriend from 2nd grade and her hubby are truckers. She said that they are hauling, but mostly medical supplies or auto parts. Neither of those qualify as nutritional, so what gives?? There is a strangeness afoot in this country, to say the least.
    -Stealth Spaniel

    ReplyDelete
  22. I've read that aluminum and tin cans are in short supply here in the USA. Some shortages of caned drinks, soups , fruit and veggies are due to the companies like Pepsi, Coke ,DelMonte and many more, are just not able to get the cans to put there product into. Of course these cans are mostly made in China . Will be starting my monthly shopping in a few days and will see if things have deteriorated any more from last months shopping.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Locust swarms in Argentina/Brazil moving north..Buffet bought,Kroger..???

    ReplyDelete
  24. I work at our local grocery chain store. Our shelves are 'mostly' stocked. We have tp and paper towels, but only a few brands. Same with pasta, only some styles, only some brands. The biggest issue I have seen is that the meat dept is stocked with a lot of cuts of meat that a lot a ppl aren't familiar with. It is slowly getting better. But prices of everything are rising. I honestly can't afford the meat prices in my store (and I am sure I am not the only onee) Thankfully, we get the bulk of our meat from a local butcher, and their prices haven't risen quite as much. I can affirm previous comments, we order items and are lucky to get half of what we order (in my dept) on any given day. No notice given from corporate or mgmt, it is what it is. Keep stacking it high, cuz it's only going to get worse IMHO. Oh, we DID get some yeast in finally!

    Grammyprepper

    ReplyDelete
  25. The meat processing plants in the Midwest have been hit hard by Covid-19. Hundreds of workers out due to illness, quite a number of deaths and workers hesitant to return to work. Farmers destroying animals due to markets closed. Small local meat processers are booked through February so unless you can process your own no point in buying directly from the farmer. I see people raving about the evil of farmers dumping milk, but what is their choice if the markets aren't buying. If they sell unprocessed milk directly to consumers they will be arrested. City people do not understand where food comes from or the process of getting it from the farmer to the stores. My g-granddaughter said she wouldn't eat my potatoes because they came out of the dirt. I told her that all potatoes grew that way, but she firmly believed differently -- she was 7 at the time.

    ReplyDelete