Non-Doomsday Prepping 2 – Shopping for Stocking Up

Kristin Devine

Kristin has humbly retired as Ordinary Times' friendly neighborhood political whipping girl to focus on culture and gender issues. She lives in a wildlife refuge in rural Washington state with too many children and way too many animals. There's also a blog which most people would very much disapprove of

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28 Responses

  1. George Turner says:

    When I was growing up we had asparagus that grew wild all along everybody’s fence rows (nobody had weed-eaters back then, and didn’t care if the weeds grew three feet high). Spreading asparagus seeds where nobody will ever mow and then forgetting about them for a few years can establish a nice supply, as they reproduce quite well once established.Report

  2. dragonfrog says:

    We have a great family run discount grocery store near us. I got to figure out how to best take advantage of it when we lived a block from the store.

    This particular place worked fine as our daily basics store (modulo milk, which they’re often out of), and being a block away we wouldn’t worry about going shopping almost daily.

    The real scores there were had by going in with an open mind about what to buy, as they would often score big lots of stuff, or restaurant size (Sysco / GFS) containers. We have a couple years supply of good baking chocolate in the pantry now because they had 5kg bars of Callebaut chocolate for cheap, and it turns out a gallon of balsamic vinegar lasts a while too.Report

    • dragonfrog in reply to dragonfrog says:

      Also being family run, the folks who work there have actual discretion. I’ve forgotten my wallet in the past and since they know I’ll be back probably tomorrow they are empowered to extend store credit. They gave our daughter a dress for her birthday one year.Report

  3. Jaybird says:

    I went to Costco on Thursday or Friday and it was pretty nuts. Lines to the back of the store. I grabbed a bag of those sweet little dinner rolls and passed by two ladies asking “if six bags would be too many”.

    I don’t know if you know the bags of rolls I’m talking about but these little things are *AWESOME* for about 5 days. They’re pretty good for another 5, if you microwave them first. After that, Maribou and I usually don’t eat any and toss the rest. (Seriously, there are more than 40 of the rolls in the bag. We could eat 2 a day for those 10 days and not empty it.)

    If I am being charitable, they were buying rolls for the nursing home they worked in and wanted to be able to feed everybody rolls for two weeks without worrying about it.

    But, dang. I have visions of them throwing 4 of those bags away and 4 people who wanted some rolls not having any.Report

    • Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

      Maybe those folks have freezers.Report

    • dragonfrog in reply to Jaybird says:

      I figure Costco has to be the worst place to shop when there are hoarding induced shortages of anything – Costco is THE store structured to appeal to people with a hoarding mindset.

      Not saying most Costco shoppers are hoarders, but surely most hoarders are Costco shoppers.

      I keep hearing Costco around here is out of TP and sundry other things, after people buy full carts of Costco size packs of it. Meanwhile the neighborhood grocery stores I’ve been to are all fully stocked, and everyone seems to be buying regular quantities of stuff.Report

    • Aaron David in reply to Jaybird says:

      I have gone to major grocery stores, and my wife has gone to an asian grocery store. None of which was severely impacted. It might happen, but so far not yet. I am waiting patiently for post-panic sales though…


      • Jaybird in reply to Aaron David says:

        I look forward to the stories of people complaining that they have 750 rolls of toilet paper in their basement and they will never need to buy TP ever again and, golly, March was crazy, wasn’t it?Report

        • George Turner in reply to Jaybird says:

          The Daily Mail had a story interviewing the brothers that bought 17,000 bottles of hand sanitizer for $1 each and were trying to sell them at Amazon for $70 each before they got shut down. Now they have 17,000 bottles of hand sanitizer sitting in their garage. ^_^

          I’m waiting for the stories on the Sinaloa Cartel trying to smuggle toilet paper into the US by hiding it under bags of cocaine.Report

          • DensityDuck in reply to George Turner says:

            More to that story: Brothers in question declared that they were going to, instead, donate the bottles to local first-responder groups. When this didn’t quite happen on schedule, the Attorney General’s office sent some people around to “help”.

            While I supposed I ought to be offended at this high-handed government arrogation of private property, I’m thinking more that these two dudes’ mouths wrote checks their asses couldn’t cash. And I can console myself by interpreting it as an Eminent Domain taking.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to DensityDuck says:

              There are two kinds of “price-gouging”.

              One I oppose to a dramatic degree. One I shrug at.

              When you hear that (two counties over) has a problem and they’re out of hand sanitizer, running to your local store and buying up the hand sanitizer and driving over there and selling it at a profit (even a hefty profit) is something that I vaguely shrug at. Hey, they needed it, we had it, and this guy delivered it and engaged in some light arbitrage that put a little money in his pocket. I’m not saying I *APPROVE*, necessarily, but I’m not opposed to it. Certainly not to the point where I think the gummint needs to get involved.

              The second kind is learning about the virus and driving 1300 miles around to every single store in that radius and buying every single bottle to, yourself, create the shortage and then leverage that.

              The former is a not-necessarily-evil kind of “gouging”.

              The latter is pretty much evil. He deserves some amount of social shaming.Report

              • veronica d in reply to Jaybird says:

                I don’t mind “surge pricing” models, because it’s pretty clear how they can cause a “market signal” thing to adjust the supply-demand thing. By contrast, ticket scalping is just creating artificial scarcity for greedy assholes who should be launched into the sun.

                Anyway, sometimes markets clear. Often they do not. Adam Smith style “markets” don’t magically emerge. There are structural aspects. Moreover, some services should be available to the poor the same as the rich.

                The assholes who bought up all the hand sanitizer — they suck and I hope they feel shame.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to veronica d says:

                Here’s one of the last lines from the NYT article:

                As for his stockpile, Mr. Colvin said he would now probably try to sell it locally. “If I can make a slight profit, that’s fine,” he said. “But I’m not looking to be in a situation where I make the front page of the news for being that guy who hoarded 20,000 bottles of sanitizer that I’m selling for 20 times what they cost me.”

                He now gets to forever be the guy who hoarded 20,000 bottles of sanitizer that he tried to sell for 20 times what they cost him.Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to veronica d says:

                Surge pricing only works if there’s untapped production that can come on-line in response to a price increase (that is, production whose cost is unprofitable at a low price but profitable at a high one).

                Surge pricing becomes gouging when there’s a constant supply and no possibility of increase. All that does is extract money from panic-buying.

                Like, bros will tell you that when there’s a hurricane coming and the gas station on the road out of town has a hand-lettered sign reading “GAS $8 DOLLARS A GALON”, that’s just the market at work and the natural response of price to rising demand and it encourages people to only buy the gas they need and otherwise the station would be empty and blah, blah, blah. They say that the high prices just encourage people to shop elsewhere, conveniently forgetting that there might not be an elsewhere. Or they’ll say that people are simply revealing their preference (“pay more” versus “don’t leave”), but since the cost of the not-leaving option can include death it suggests the gas-station owner is holding a gun to the head of everyone in town and saying “pay or die”, and while that’s still an economic transaction it’s maybe not one we want to just wave away. Or they’ll say that the high prices encourage more provision of gas, which, the station owner can call for more gas all he wants but the JIT optimized supply-chain management software says his next delivery’s not until Thursday, and the franchise contract says he’s not allowed to take independent deliveries so he can’t buy gas elsewhere.

                And while price is a signal, you don’t always get to determine what it’s signaling. Maybe the price of gas is going up because they’re almost out! Maybe I better fill all the way up now instead of just buying a gallon or two because there might not be any left soon!Report

              • veronica d in reply to DensityDuck says:


                I don’t mind when the price of Lyft goes up after a concert lets out. As a result, more Lyft drivers will choose to drive at those times. In theory the market price mechanism will work in this case.

                (I have a lot of problems with the “gig economy,” but price surge models aren’t part of that.)

                However, “gas during a hurricane” is the kind of thing where rationing might be more just than price gouging. Of course, rationing requires wise government, which has its own obvious problems.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to veronica d says:

                If you had a system with automatic surge pricing built in, it could serve as an indicator that rationing was called for.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

                Speaking of social shaming… (Warning: strong language)


    • Kristin Devine in reply to Jaybird says:

      While they were probably just being idiots, I have 5 kids and when they were all at home I sometimes got that amount of stuff to freeze. Living out of town means it’s really hard to keep up on stuff like that.

      In LDS country this is not at all unusual, even without the freezing LOL. We have 8-10 kid families in our community.

      My husband’s coworker has foster children and had to go get toilet paper, and even though he just bought their normal amount people were looking at him like history’s greatest monster. 🙂Report

  4. DensityDuck says:

    This is a small and silly thing, but…thank you for not spelling “hoard” as “horde”.Report

  1. March 18, 2020

    […] Part 2 is here: Shopping for Stocking Up […]Report

  2. April 12, 2020

    […] 1 is here: The Case for Being Prepared Part 2 is here: Shopping for Stocking Up Part 3 is here: Staples and Beyond Part 4 is here: Filling in the […]Report

  3. April 17, 2020

    […] Part 2 is here: Shopping for Stocking Up […]Report

  4. October 31, 2020

    […] 1 is here: The Case for Being Prepared Part 2 is here: Shopping for Stocking Up Part 3 is here: Staples and Beyond Part 4 is here: Filling in the Gaps Part 5 is here: Suppertime! […]Report