May 29, 2020

In wake of the recent COVID-19 pandemic, many local grocery and convenience stores have seen an exponential rise in customers hoarding and stockpiling necessary goods like toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and various non-perishables. Videos and photos are being shared across social media of swarming crowds and empty shelves.

However, while some Kitchener residents are shocked when they see the empty shelves, they still manage to show kindness to others.

The shelves of a local Wal-mart on Saturday, Mar. 14, usually stocked with toilet paper (Jen Muir/SPOKE)

Claudia Frohlich, a front-end worker at Belifore’s Valu-Mart in Kitchener, says it was clear when the madness began Thursday afternoon.

“Like, the moment I would say you could pinpoint it was literally the moment that the public schools closed for two weeks,” Frohlich said in an interview. “That made things change in an instant.”

She recalled a “mass panic” from 4 p.m. until 10 p.m. when the store closes, with lineups stretching down the ice-cream aisle.

“I had one lady come through with $400 carts. I do not see $400 carts unless it’s Christmas or Easter or something like that.”

However, she notes that while many people are stunned to see the empty shelves, and there have been a few brief moments where people were upset, she maintains that most people are remaining calm and courteous.

“I think everybody is aware of what’s going on, so people are more shocked,” said Frohlich. “Ninety-seven per cent of everyone was wonderful.”

A sign outside of Bob’s Valu Mart in Waterloo on Monday, Mar. 16, warning customers of shortages (Jen Muir/SPOKE)

Cedar Klassen, who works at Circle Foods in Kitchener, reports the same thing.

“We’ve been fortunate that most of our people coming into the store are our regular customers, and they’ve been very courteous towards each other and patient with the longer lines,” they said. “The only disagreement that broke out on Saturday was between someone who was ahead in line and someone who only had one item, each arguing, “no, you should go first!”

Klassen says that they’re seeing mostly the same faces, but those people are coming in earlier and buying a little more than they normally would, aside from a few anomalies.

“We sold out most of our lentils this weekend; today we got more French lentils in and then one customer bought over 10kg of them and now we’re sold out again.”

According to Andy and Lynne Steeves, two customers at the Sobeys in Waterloo, the hoarding makes it more difficult to find goods.

“People need to have power over their life ,” Lynne said. “So, if stocking up makes them feel better, people should do what makes them feel safe.”

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