Local supermarkets that have been operating in pandemic mode for the past five months kicked into even higher gear over the weekend, as customers began preparing for a possible one-two punch from back-to-back hurricanes.
Though the threat to the Capital Region from one of those storms, Marco, has since diminished, no one in the grocery business is letting down their guard yet, especially with a potential Category 3 Hurricane Laura possibly headed for southwest Louisiana.
“We’ve seen a massive surge in demand,” says Associated Grocers President and CEO Manard Lagasse. “Retailers are so busy, it’s all hands on deck.”
The local wholesaler and distributor began bringing employees in over the weekend to work overtime and will continue to do so until the threat from the storms has passed.
“Getting stuff in isn’t a problem,” Lagasse says. “It’s getting stuff out to the stores.”
At Calvin’s Bocage Market, owner Calvin Linley said Sunday afternoon he was “knee deep” and too busy to even take a break and talk about it.
Bet-R Supermarket near the Perkins Road Overpass also experienced much heavier business than usual. Most inventory was in stock, according to owner Cliff Boulden, though some hard-to-get items were in even shorter supply than usual.
“We haven’t had packaged sliced meat for four weeks,” he says. “We do have whole meat, but that led to long lines over the weekend at the deli.”
While shoppers may have been edgy as they prepared for yet another potential disaster in the middle of an already difficult year, local grocers say they’ve adapted to doing business in a pandemic and were prepared for the added logistical challenges storm-readiness shopping would bring.
“We are already prepared for the pandemic, so now we’re just going through our regular hurricane preparation protocols,” says Hi Nabor owner Jim Crifasi. “It hasn’t been too crazy yet. So far, everything is running smoothly.”