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Tuesday, October 3, 2023

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Area grocery stores rising to the challenge

Pantry and cleaning supplies, toilet paper in high demand

In the Portland area, there has been tension in stores from the outset of the COVID-19 outbreak. Scuffles have broken out across the country as people have gone into panic mode and many have horded supplies.

We’ve all seen the cleared out isles on the nightly news. No, this isn’t Venezuela, it is panic shopping in cities across the United States.

Fortunately for those of us who live in the tri-county area, we have strong local grocery stores that are both providing the goods we need and a sense of community in these challenging times.

“That’s what we’re here for, to keep the community going. People need to understand what we’re doing. It’s difficult right now.”

– Carey Hughes, Huskey’s 97 Market

Two Boys Meat and Grocery in Condon had started working with a new warehouse just before the Coronavirus hit. The transition didn’t come at the best time, but owner Josh Selby feels that things have stabilized with the new warehouse. Josh and his wife Dana feel confident that they can provide the items needed in the community but say it is a challenging time.

“There was some panic buying,” at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak said Josh “but things have calmed down a bit.”

Josh says that after warehouses began to limit the amount of toilet paper, cleaning supplies and other hot ticket items that stores could buy, things have improved significantly.

Josh says that prior to these changes, stores were purchasing large amounts of toilet paper and other items, leaving very little in the supply chain.

“Toilet paper, bleach and cleaning supplies are hard to keep in stock,” said Josh.

The Fossil Mercantile has also worked overtime to get the items that people need.

Owner Joe McNeil is also thankful that the warehouse has put limits on high demand items that were difficult to obtain for the past several weeks.

“It’s been tough. We ordered sixteen cases of toilet paper and received one. No eggs. Outs all over the board,” said Joe. “I’m hopeful that this week’s delivery will be better.”

The Wheeler County Trading Company in Mitchell is also working overtime to keep shelves stocked and to meet the needs of the community.

“We are staying very busy, sometimes ordering twice the normal products, particularly in groceries, produce, beans and pantry essentials” said owner Gabe Salvage.

“We are increasing sanitary measures around high traffic areas throught the store. It’s keeping us very busy.”

Gabe says that in the past, it has been common for him to be by himself at the store. Now, he needs several staff to keep up with the demand.

The Huskey’s 97 Market in Moro has worked to secure items through their established warehouses, through other local vendors and by shopping online for items that were not available.

Owner Carey Hughes says that it has been a very challenging time. “I wasn’t able to get any toilet paper last week. We got one case two weeks ago.”

The shortage from warehouses has forced Carey to be creative. Carey says that she bought toilet paper from local distributor Azure Farms a couple of weeks ago, but they have since sold out. Carey says that hand sanitizer hasn’t been available in over a month. “People are buying sugar and flour, I can hardly keep that on the shelf,” she says.

“I’m doing my best. I’ve been doing online ordering myself to keep things stocked here. That’s what we’re here for, to keep the community going. People need to understand what we’re doing. It’s difficult right now,” Carey said.

The Northwest Grocery Association has put out COVID-19 shopping guidelines for shoppers to keep items in stock and to calm nervous shoppers.

The four guidelines are:


Federal, State, and Local governments are working with the industries that provide your food and essential goods to keep your grocery store open and stocked. The Covid-19 virus is not like a natural disaster that could immobilize trucks or threaten water supplies. Everyone should shop to have an adequate supply of food and essential products, but there is no need to hoard supplies to be safe. Remember your neighbor behind you in line, they need toilet paper too!


At doors, in aisles, and in line, remember to take a step back and allow 3 to 6 feet of distance between you and your fellow customers. According to the CDC this is one of the most effective ways to prevent transmission. Think of it as seeing that person you’ve been avoiding, but without the hostility.


Our employees are a critical link to your food supply. Please do the following to keep them as healthy as possible:

Observe social distancing the best you can with department personnel and your clerk when checking out.

Use self-checkout stations whenever available. Ask for a cleaning or use a sanitation wipe before each use.

Bag your own groceries to mitigate the number of touches your bags and merchandise receive.


Some grocers are offering special morning hours for senior and immune compromised populations to shop. By coming early these population will have the advantage of overnight stocking, smaller crowds, and the first to enter after an overnight deep cleaning. Your help in respecting this time is appreciated.


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