Shoppers flood to stores to stock up before storms

By DAWNE LEIKER

dleiker@dailynews.net

In grocery stores across the region, back-to-back winter storms prompted shoppers to turn out in droves in search of winter comfort foods.

Keeping up with increased demand, while also dealing with shipment delays, has been a trial for local grocers.

"You try to run produce at a level that you want the freshest product possible for your customer," said Mike Konz, manager of Hays Walmart SuperCenter. "Any disruption in the supply chain can turn into a problem where you can end up with an out-of-stock situation."

Konz has seen items such as ground beef, chili beans, milk, bread and snow removal products run off the shelves the past few days.

However, he is looking forward to the change warmer temperatures forecast for the end of the week might bring.

"We think with this moisture and as it warms up, spring's really going to be on top of us," he said. "And Easter. ... We feel like we really need to be ready for people who want to get out in their yards right away in the next couple of weeks."

But those warmer temperatures still were a few days away Monday as snow flurries turned into fat flakes in the afternoon, signaling perhaps another round of winter weather.

A few shoppers were gritting their teeth while stocking up on essentials -- once again.

Mia Knoll, Wilson Elementary School secretary, loaded her trunk with several grocery bags at Dillons on Vine Street as she took advantage of one last snow day.

It wasn't the first time Knoll had been shopping during the five-day stretch of snowy weather, but having a student at home for several snow days had taken a toll on groceries at home.

"My son is a senior, and he needs to eat," she said with a laugh. "So I just wanted to pick some extra things up."

For Dillons, keeping ahead of the storms by restocking shelves had proven to be a challenge.

"Thankfully, our logistics teams were able to bring in some additional drivers to help with the demand," said Sheila Lowrie, Dillons spokeswoman.

That demand included basic grocery items and ingredients that go into preparation of cold weather comfort foods, such as chili and chicken and noodles, she said.

Looking ahead, Lowrie said Dillons store teams will be playing catch-up throughout the upcoming week.

"I know that our store teams are working really hard to help get the products that were delivered to our store locations on the shelves," she said. "I know that over the weekend, we did see some record numbers of customers coming in to stock up, which is good because they were heeding the warnings from the weathermen and making sure that they had food on hand."