Customers at Wegmans late Thursday night stood wide-eyed among emptied shelves, trying to find the remaining items on their grocery lists. Several cashier lines stretched nearly halfway to the back of the store.
“Everybody stocks up to feel like they have enough toilet paper, goods to last the entire pandemic.” said Doug Swarts, an Ithaca resident shopping for Instacart, an online grocery delivery service. “It’s kind of a nightmare.”
Each order took longer than usual, Swarts said, as shortages of different items prevented him from filling orders. He even canceled one online order after realizing the items were out of stock.
wegmans, ithaca, ny.
if you know the store, then you realize how extraordinary things are. pic.twitter.com/dl5A8lkFvJ
— Jack Powers (@TVRjack) March 13, 2020
Wally W., a Wegmans employee of 30 years, couldn’t remember a time the store’s shelves were so empty. Jordan Z., another Wegmans employee, said the crowd was “atypical” given the time of night.
“What the hell happens when half the night crew gets sent home for two weeks?” Jordan Z. asked. “Somebody has to stock the food … so people don’t freak out.”
Some shoppers, hoping just to go about a typical late-night grocery run, were frustrated by the panic, sparse shelves and crowd.
“I think people are overreacting; [it’s] not as big a deal as everyone thinks,” said Greg Wilson, a customer shopping for cat food. “It’s not going to get here. I’m not afraid of it. If I get sick, I’ll deal with it and then I’ll get better.”
Wilson was not willing to wait in such long lines, and said he would come back another day.
Benito De Leon ’20 described the feeling among his community at Cornell as less of panic and more of frustration. Diana Herrera ’19, standing in front of the empty shelves of the meat section, felt the same, calling the panic “overboard.”
“It’s just frustrating that this happened so quickly,” Herrera said. “Like where were we last week? Not here.”