No TP at Nogales Walmart

By Robert E. Kimball

Bins for toilet paper and paper towels were totally empty at 9 a.m. Friday, April 4 at the Walmart superstore in Nogales, Are people hoarding? That depends on what you mean by hoarding. Is stocking-up hoarding? Is there a difference? The dictionary says hoarding is, “hidden accumulation and “stock” is a supply of goods. Hoarding means you are hiding the fact that you may be buying more TP than you need whereas stocking up means replenishing your stock.

Hoarding implies you’re embarrassed for anyone to know just how much TP you have. Well, you’re just plain lucky to find any during the coronavirus pandemic and when you do you will buy as much as you can.

All it takes is a rumor. In 1973 late-night host Jonny Carson http://www.jonnycarsonjoke/toilet paper joked in his opening monolog not only was there a gas shortage (which there was) but a TP shortage (which there wasn’t). The next day viewers emptied store shelves of the can’t live without item.

Here is the problem with TP. Everyone wants it and no one wants to be out. When the media shows empty shelves in the paper goods aisle customers rush from store to store looking for TP. If they find it they buy as much as they can because they don’t know how long it will be until more stock will be available. And there is another problem, TP is bulky. Two cases overflow a shopping cart. And because it’s bulky stores can stock only so much before they run out of space. It’s a chain reaction. As customers buy more than usual store shelves are depleted. Stores rush to bring in more inventory. Soon warehouses are depleted.

I have shopped the Nogales Walmart often since its opening more than fifteen years ago. Until the coronavirus hit, the Nogales store had been one of Walmart’s top volume stores due to in large part to shoppers from Mexico. I was shocked on Friday at how quiet the store was. Did someone close the border?

Following a Fox news report suggesting all should wear a face mask when they were out and about, I wore one. I was not alone. Several other customers wore masks and two used a scarf to cover their face and mouth. Where did I find a mask? In my shop.

The produce department was well stocked, but I was nearly the only one in that department. I bought both baking potatoes and sweet potatoes each wrapped so they could be cooked in the microwave. I’ve only been able to find these at Walmart even before the coronavirus became front-page news.

The packaged meat department was disappointing. Nearly half of the slots were empty. I was able to find some thin cut pork chops. After no TP in stores, limited meat selection is what most of my friends have complained about.

The canned soup shelves were nearly empty. Most of what was left were low-calorie soups. I did manage to find four cans of regular soup.

Just before the pharmacy opened at 9 a.m. there was a line of customers waiting to pick up their prescriptions. There was also a line at the bank in front of the store with customers waiting to cash checks.

Here’s a first for me. About 9:30 a.m. when I was ready to check out there was only one customer in front of me at the register. I’m talking about a terminal where an employee rang up and bagged my groceries. Prior to coronavirus, I had endured lines of six or more customers in front of me.

As long as the pandemic lasts there will shortages of items as demand shifts from most customers buying only what they need for a week or less to buying far more for fear that if they don’t they will do without.