Local corner stores and mini marts have felt the same impact as grocery stores, as residents continue to stockpile bottled water, toilet paper, pasta, and canned foods as they prepare to sequester themselves in their homes to slow the spread of the coronavirus
Many smaller grocers, like delis and liquor stores, say their food inventories have left shelves at varying rates since residents anxiously started hitting the stores in droves, though they have one thing in common. Like larger grocery stores, toilet paper and hand sanitizer disappear as soon as they hit the shelves.
Though many of the businesses surrounding it have closed down during the health crisis, Cantwell’s Market & Deli has experienced no shortage of business, according to team member Pradinya, who places Cantwell’s orders.
She chalked the store’s increased business up to the fact that so many larger grocery stores have had their inventories of certain items exhausted. Speaking to News-Press on Tuesday afternoon, she said the heavy customer traffic had slowed a bit since Sunday, likely because most people at this point have gathered all the food they need for shutting themselves indoors.
That said, Cantwell’s hand sanitizer stock was completely depleted as was its toilet paper, which had arrived just a day earlier. This was a surprise to Pradinya, as she thought the latest shipment would adequately cover the demand.
“I thought we ordered too much, but it was all gone in a day,” she said.
Like Cantwell’s, the Mini Mart at 439 State St. also had somewhat slower business since Sunday, according to its owner John Chabes. His store still had plenty of water in stock, as it only sells individual bottles of varying sizes as opposed to cases, but the store owner said he hasn’t been able to hold on to either hand sanitizer or toilet paper.
As he’s owned the mini mart for 43 years, Mr. Chabes has seen it through challenging times like the Thomas Fire, the subsequent Montecito debris flow and its aftermath, but the store owner expressed concern that this period could be far more difficult as it isn’t clear when the health crisis is going to end.
“The Thomas Fire was pretty devastating, and the flood, but this could be worse. We don’t know how long this is going to last,” he said.
Mini marts have tried to reserve enough essential supplies for as many buyers as possible by setting limits on certain items, but like the bigger grocery stores this has done little to keep certain inventories from running out. This has been the case for Presidio Market Liquor & Grill. Cashier Rosa Quintero remarked that since people started staying indoors, the store’s food supplies have remained stocked and its grill has seen relatively little business during lunchtime hours. However, in line with the usual refrain store workers told the News-Press, Presidio Market’s cases of water and toilet paper run out just as fast the store receives them. Because a frenzy ensues every time both items come back in stock, the store has put caps on both.
“We have a limit for people to buy two, because everyone wants to buy it at the same time,” Ms. Quintero said.
“This morning I brought three boxes of toilet paper and now it’s all gone,” he said.
Some smaller markets haven’t seen toilet paper vanish immediately, but only because they don’t sell any. Currently without toilet paper or hand sanitizer, Tino’s Italian Grocery’s hottest items have actually been foodstuffs, particularly pasta and pasta sauces. While speaking to the News-Press, co-owner Deanna Morinini wasn’t certain if one of her brothers, both co-owners, had placed an order for toilet paper in the stores’ next shipment. If it is in the next shipment, it’s probably safe to say pasta and sauce won’t be the hottest item any more.