Author Topic: Grocery Store Sold-Out in 3 Days...The Old Saying is True  (Read 5722 times)

Offline Cult Leader

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Grocery Store Sold-Out in 3 Days...The Old Saying is True
« on: January 28, 2012, 01:28:45 PM »
I’ve always heard that a Grocery Store can be wiped out in less than a week during a natural disaster.  While I certainly believe it to be true, I hoped I’d never have to see that type of display.  But this week it happened in our town……

A chain of grocery stores, located here in the Southeastern US, Food Lion, announced several weeks ago that they were closing around 50 of their stores in our area.  The store in our town was not the place my family did most of it’s grocery shopping but they did have a house brand of drinks my children like, so we’d make a visit every month or so to stock up.  With the news we, stopped in on Monday of this week and picked up a couple of cases.  The store was as it always was, stocked and looking like it would be around forever.

Then Wednesday came.  With no advertising, only word of mouth from the employees (who only found out Monday evening) the store opened with a liquidation company running the sale.  Everything in the store, with the exception of beer and tobacco, was 50% off.  COME ONE, COME ALL and they did.

By Wednesday evening, the parking lot was full.  In the word’s of my youngest daughter, its like “Black Friday” for a grocery store.  People were buying buggy’s full and they just kept coming.  At 6:00 pm, prime time for a grocery store, they closed the doors with a sign that they would open tomorrow at 9:00 am.  It probably took another hour to get the people already in the store out, but when I passed by later that night, the store was dark.

Thursday morning saw a crowd of close to a hundred people standing in line to get in as the store opened.  And the day was the same, buggies full of everything coming out of the store and again, closed at 6:00 pm.

I knew something was up on Friday, as I drove by around 10:00 am and there were not many cars in the parking lot.  Apparently, most of the store was sold out of what anyone wanted.

So it’s Saturday, I drop my daughter off at friends to play and decide to stop by since I hadn’t found an opportunity earlier in the week.  When I walked in I was amazed.  The store was practically empty!  They had roped off all the isles but two and had moved everything that was left into them.  And those two isles were probably only 10% filled.  If not for the, school supplies, hair-coloring and Slim-Fast Shakes there wouldn’t have been anything left.

So then I began to think, TWO DAYS.  In two days, this store sold out of everything, and I mean everything!  I began to think of all the items that used to stay on the shelf forever when I worked at a grocery store.  How some spices never sold, no matter how much you marked them down. How Cranberry sauce only sold during November and December.  How nobody bought Bok Choy (seriously we’d put four out and wind up throwing five away; I think they multiply).  Everything would have probably gone even quicker if they would have discounted the beer and smokes.

I also thought of how any type of disaster would be at least as motivating as a 50% sale and how quickly any food and supplies would be gone.  I just wonder if anyone else in my town could see that.  I seriously doubt it.

Offline TexasGirl

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Re: Grocery Store Sold-Out in 3 Days...The Old Saying is True
« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2012, 02:22:00 PM »
Great post, thanks for sharing.

Just think of what it would be like with a looming disaster coupled with panic buying!

I was in Houston during hurricane Ike and saw most of a large box grocery store empty out in about a day, at regular prices and a steady stream delivery trucks arriving at the docks.

It can and will happen. 

After the hurricane, it took several days before products began arriving again.  Besides the roads being blocked with downed trees and such, power was out for days, and the just-in-time distribution center was out of supplies.

You should have seen the rush when the first truck of ice arrived and another of bread.  Most of the FEMA aid was directed to the inner city, the welfare folks got free government ice, MRE's, tarps, and supplies, the suburban (more conservative) areas did not receive urgent federal assistance.  We were on our own ($).

~TG

Offline Nicodemus

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Re: Grocery Store Sold-Out in 3 Days...The Old Saying is True
« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2012, 03:02:08 PM »
We had a Food Lion with a going out of business 50% off everything in stock sale here in Southwest VA earlier this week. To be fair, the store had everything at a 25% off discount in the days prior. The store posted closing notices and sale dates Monday on all of the windows. I waited until Wednesday morning when I heard that it had changed to a 50% off sale and stocked up on a lot of items that people had overlooked. Early that morning when they opened a lot of items were gone and some of the shelves were looking bare. When I went back that evening some isles were nearly completely bare, but there was still a lot of product to be had.

This event was very different than what would occur in a large scale emergency. Most folks in this case were looking for bargains on the higher priced items and not so much paying attention to things that would keep them alive. With that being said, you're right in that the store was pretty well cleared out in a few short days. In an emergency situation, it would go even more quickly.

Offline Morning Sunshine

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Re: Grocery Store Sold-Out in 3 Days...The Old Saying is True
« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2012, 03:26:43 PM »
I had the opportunity to hit a grocery store closing about 5 years ago.  I hit it long after the "goods" were gone, but I got a killer deal on muffin/cupcake papers, usually about $1.50 for a pack of 50.  I got them 2/.25.  I took as many as I thought was just on the far side of greedy.  I wish that I had cleaned them out at that price.  granted they were "Christmas" wrappers, but I have a hard time seeing the decorations once the batter has soaked them.  and who really cares anyway?
I got a few other good deals there too, but I remember the muffin papers...

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Re: Grocery Store Sold-Out in 3 Days...The Old Saying is True
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2012, 07:22:19 PM »
I looked it up to find a reason why they are closing, http://www.wtvr.com/news/wtvr-food-lion-stores-to-close-20120112,0,1079707.story. I'm guessing that they were a higher priced food store.
Bad news for the food pantries: http://www.wrdw.com/home/headlines/138019298.html
More hungry people, just what we need. The check-out lady at our grocery remarked how expensive food is getting and I remarked "grow a garden". She laughed and walked away saying that she didn't know how. Sometimes people don't realize that they learn how to do something that they don't know how to do.  ;)

Offline Call

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Re: Grocery Store Sold-Out in 3 Days...The Old Saying is True
« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2012, 08:56:52 PM »
Some might argue that it was the sale the prompted such a run, but replace low prices with shortages (or fear of them) and the effect would be the same.

When it happens people don't care about the price, they just get whatever they can. Add in panic and it goes from head-shaking disbelief to dangerous.


Offline Nicodemus

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Re: Grocery Store Sold-Out in 3 Days...The Old Saying is True
« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2012, 06:21:12 AM »
I looked it up to find a reason why they are closing, http://www.wtvr.com/news/wtvr-food-lion-stores-to-close-20120112,0,1079707.story. I'm guessing that they were a higher priced food store.

I really think that whether they were high priced or not depended on the particular area. Here in Southwest Virginia Food Lion seemed consistently more expensive than stores such as Kroger and Ingles but comparable to Food City. However, in the northern part of the state they seemed to be very competitive with all of the other chain stores. They were also just a mile away from the Wally World Supercenter and Sam's.

Corporate may also want to convert the whole Food Lion chain into Blooms Grocery Stores and want to get rid of the stores where it wouldn't work. Blooms is an upscale grocery owned by the same company with a large organic selection, specialty items, computerized shopping carts a large foreign foods selection and so on.

It's a shame in how hard it will hit local food banks

Offline Morning Sunshine

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Re: Grocery Store Sold-Out in 3 Days...The Old Saying is True
« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2012, 06:36:28 AM »
It's a shame in how hard it will hit local food banks

agreed, but the new article made it sound like the only moral reason a grocery store has to be in business is to donate to the food banks.  and with those stores going, the biggest loss is for that.  not for the store owners who have invested money and time, not for the hard-working employees, not for the inhabitants of the neighborhoods who shopped there.  but for the food banks.

Offline Nicodemus

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Re: Grocery Store Sold-Out in 3 Days...The Old Saying is True
« Reply #8 on: January 30, 2012, 07:11:33 AM »
I don't think the article's intent was to give the idea that it was some kind of moral obligation to keep the stores open solely for the sake of food banks.

It mentioned the employees up front in the second sentence, but the focus was on a different angle. Aside from that, most of the commentary was from Golden Harvest Food Bank Director of Special Projects Travis McNeal so what will be missed by the food bank is obviously going to be his primary concern. It comes off a little differently in the video, which the article was taken from.

Offline TwoBluesMama

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Re: Grocery Store Sold-Out in 3 Days...The Old Saying is True
« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2012, 09:08:07 AM »
We've had this happen a few times here in Colorado during various bad weather/blizzards - absolutely good reason to store food besides I don't like mob scenes and was surprised by a woman's reaction (she was ticked at me!) when I picked up the last milk on the shelf.

Offline TexasGirl

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Re: Grocery Store Sold-Out in 3 Days...The Old Saying is True
« Reply #10 on: January 30, 2012, 09:27:16 AM »
I really think that whether they were high priced or not depended on the particular area. 

This is normal, every retailer does it. Other than advertised specials, which will be common to most stores in a region, individual prices will depend on store overhead (cost to be in that specific real estate), local competition, sales volume, and supply.  What doesn't seem to change is the need to make money, without that factor any business would go out of business.  So if all the other factors "squeeze" profits below a survivability threshold, and it looks long term, you may see a store, or region, abandoned.

Did you know that all WalMart stores are not created (priced) equal?  I live between two stores, one has prices on some items as much as 20% higher than the other store.

Houston has been one of the most competitive grocery markets in the nation for decades.  Sharp local chains have kept national chains lean, or out of the market.  Food Lion attempted to move in our market in the early 90's and then pulled out, some stores were only open a few months before closing.  The list of tried-it-and-couldn't-make-it chains in the fourth largest grocery market in the nation are staggering.

~TG

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Re: Grocery Store Sold-Out in 3 Days...The Old Saying is True
« Reply #11 on: January 30, 2012, 11:26:22 AM »
I really think that whether they were high priced or not depended on the particular area. Here in Southwest Virginia Food Lion seemed consistently more expensive than stores such as Kroger and Ingles but comparable to Food City.
No stores closing by me. Food lion seems to have decent prices around me, the problem is they dont carry much of what me and my wife like to buy. I have found that Wal-mart beats their prices and we drive past Food Lion to go to wal-mart to save more money and get what we want.

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Re: Grocery Store Sold-Out in 3 Days...The Old Saying is True
« Reply #12 on: January 30, 2012, 02:15:44 PM »
Here in Wisconsin we have Woodman's that is consistently lower and better stocked than the Wal-Mart across the road. In several medium sized town in this region fancier (more expensive) food stores do not do well.

Offline Ponce

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Re: Grocery Store Sold-Out in 3 Days...The Old Saying is True
« Reply #13 on: February 01, 2012, 04:18:22 PM »
My answer to this thread is......."Get ready today, and relax tomorrow"... Ponce

Let's face it guys.......you and I know what is going to happen, so that as long as you can afford to do so then do it today and not tomorrow........"Buy it today at whatever the price because you might not be able to buy it tomorrow at whatever the price"........believe me when I say that I know what I am talking about.

On my last trip to Cuba I took $9,999.99 (heheheheheheeh) to fix my dad's home but I was unable to do it because there was no material to be found, not even paint.

Offline SteveandTracyinKY

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Re: Grocery Store Sold-Out in 3 Days...The Old Saying is True
« Reply #14 on: February 12, 2012, 12:56:26 PM »
Hell, they were giving us 2" of snow and walmart looked like a scene from a movie. People were grabbing everything they could. We saw several people coming out with two buggies. One lady had like 20 cases of soda, 10 bags of ice melt, and 4 loaves of bread. What are you going to do with that combination?

We grabbed what we were there for, a bottle of eye drops for my contacts, and got the hell out. Crazy people.

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Re: Grocery Store Sold-Out in 3 Days...The Old Saying is True
« Reply #15 on: February 12, 2012, 06:55:09 PM »
I am unable to locate the exact law or the wording of the law, but I'm pretty sure that Congress made it illegal as long ago as WWI for the Teamsters union to pull a nationnwide strike due to the awareness of how quickly commerce would shut down in the nation if such a strike ever happened. Since the days that Hoffa ran the Teamsters (he ran if for over 40 years, from 1932 until 1975 when he ... disappeared), the standard meme of "three days" has been pretty universally accepted since the 1960's onward as far as how long it would be before every last supermarket shelf in this nation would be stripped bare.

Most every truck driver in North America is aware of this fact. Three days of zero truck movement here and we're done as a nation.