I ventured out into town today. My first trip out of the house in more than week and my first visit to our nearest city in about four weeks. I had a doctor’s appointment, but I took advantage of being out and all masked up to go to Sam’s Club and then pick up some takeout for dinner. Here are my observations:
People are Staying Home
Traffic was light. Maybe it is the heat, but it seemed like more people are staying home. Our state has gone through the reopening and seen an uptick in cases, so I can’t help but think that people have just decided to play it safe. Also, to be fair, it was 1:30 p.m., the middle of the work day. Maybe a lot of people were stuck “working from home.”
There was far better adherence to the “wear a mask” rule than I had observed before. A couple people had their nose sticking out, but I didn’t see anyone who was unmasked.
My doctor was wearing and N95 mask. Chairs in the waiting room were taped off to prevent people from sitting too close. Patients are given the option to wait in their cars.
I should also mention that while I was out and about, I saw no anger, no fear, and no unfriendliness. It may be harder to approach people when they are wearing masks, but I did and the people I spoke to were all seemed happy to chat for a minute, regardless of their age or race. It’s important to remember that the anger and hate you see on TV are just another kind of reality show. Just because you see mobs throwing rocks and setting fires on TV doesn’t mean that this is happening across the country. Shootings may be up in New York and Chicago, but it doesn’t mean crime is rising smaller cities.
Sam’s Club Update
Sam’s Club also had very little traffic. The checkout staff was largely sitting idle. I use their app, scan the item sin my cart and pay online, so maybe others were doing the same thing. But I also noticed that there were not as many pre-picked carts waiting to be picked up by customers.
Meats were back in stock, the most variety I have seen since the shortage started. I mentioned this to a fellow from the Meat Department that was restocking, and he said “Yeah, we’re finally getting pretty much everything we order.” I picked up lamb chops, beef, and pork chops at decent pries. In fact, I would go so far as say that the pork chop was inexpensive. I didn’t see many sausages, but steak was definitely back in stock.
The seafood freezer had shrimp and tilapia in it, but nothing else of note. This is in contrast with the last time I went to Costco when they had plenty of salmon, catfish, tilapia and other seafood. The Cheese, which was in short supply last time, was back in stock, but the wall of bacon they used to have was still absent. There were more options for eggs as well.
In terms of pantry items, there were plenty of breakfast foods, baking mixes, canned foods including canned meats, pasta, ramen, rice, beans, nets, etc. In fact, there were four different kinds of peanut butter – more than I have seen there before. There was plenty of flour, masa harina, spices and other baking ingredients, too. And despite rumors of shortages of canned soup, there were at least two kinds available, including chicken noodle.
Sam’s Changes Floor Plan
The Sam’s I visit the most often is apparently in the middle of revamping their interior layout. I don’t know why, but I assume it is to better accommodate our evolving shopping habits, and possibly to cover the fact that they cannot get some foods. I noticed more alcohol in a more prominent location. They had also moved the junk food and candy aisles, and I believe they have expanded their offering of snacks, crackrs, chips, etc. It looks like they are also offering more food in bars than ever before: Protein bars, breakfast bars, granola bars, nuts & fruit bars, etc.
Three large refrigerated displays had been removed and there was a giant empty space in the middle of the store. Put up some hoops and you could play basketball there.
The Sweet Spot
My feeling is that this is the sweet spot between the panic buying and shortages we saw this spring and the panic buying and shortages I expect we will see this fall. If you have enough money in the bank and space in your freezer, I would encourage you to stock up while you can. Inventory levels appear to be pretty good and prices were also good, especially on canned beans and other pantry products.
I’ve observed markets long enough to know that they are largely cyclical in nature. To get ahead, you want to buy when supply is high and cost is there for lower. Well, I’m calling it: This is the time to buy. If you need to pump up your storage pantry, this is the time to do so.
I Held Back
We are closing on our “prefect prepping property” on Friday, so I did not buy much besides meat and cheese. I don’t see a reason to buy food here and drive it hundreds of miles to the new house. We’ll buy more once we get there. It was hard for me to resist buying some items. I had to constantly remind myself that we could get them later.
Hopefully, we’ll still be able to do so. I have no idea when things will fall apart again (or even if they will) but I certainly suspect they will. That just seems to be the way the wind is blowing. I hoep I am wrong, but we are preparing for the worst.
The Local Restaurant Scene
We don’t eat take out very often (with the exception of the drive in window when traveling) and we have yet to eat in a restaurant. Today, I got it from a barbecue joint where I have been going for more than 15 years. This was the first time I visited since the start of COVID-19.
They had cleared away all their booths and tables, leaving only four spread out far apart. They have put up a tent without sides in their parking lot and have picnic tables underneath it so people could eat outside. Of course, not too many people want to do that when the temps this week have been in the 90s.
They were optimized for carry out and curbside pick-up with special parking spaces just for the latter. I have to admit, I was impressed at how well they had adapted. They already had a good to-go business, so I am sure that helped with the transition. I was also pleased to recognize a number of the employees. It’s good that this small, local business has been able to survive.
A Guns and Ammo Update
Just two days ago, I blogged about 10 things to buy before the election. Guns and ammo were on the list due to recent and expected shortages. This newspaper article puts some facts behind that, showing that firearm sales in the first half of the year almost double and ammo sales jumped even faster.
My advice to “snap up” some 9mm if you see it for sale stands.