Earlier this year, a run on essentials – like toilet paper and hand sanitizer – caused some bottlenecks in grocery stores as Washingtoners wanted to stock up while ordering at home and weren’t really sure how long mandates would last. Now it looks like those unnecessary panic buying times are back. After Governor Jay Inslee announced new restrictions on gatherings and business on Sunday, there were soon empty shelves in local supermarkets that were stripped of various staples – some, like Safeway, are even considering restricting the number of such items customers buy can reintroduce.
As you can recall, restaurants and bars once saw a potential opening to the black market for toilet paper and other supplies. In the spring, some had large orders from suppliers gathering dust after the dining rooms first closed. Some decided to pack them with take-away orders to sweeten the deals – even breweries got involved. But this time, those gimmicks will likely be scarce.
“Our non-food suppliers are experiencing the same bottlenecks as food,” says Jeremy Price of the Sea Creatures restaurant group, which includes the redesigned Whale Wins Cafe and Larder, a hybrid market and counter eatery. Price explains that while some places are still trying to sell items like toilet paper, the last eight months of the pandemic have been driving up and down the supply chain in the hospitality industry, so there is likely not a large surplus of glove disinfectants and paper products for restaurants Use for retail or promotional gifts.
In the meantime, other establishments have already devoted much of their resources to relocating takeaway and it may not be worth finding ways to cram in extras. Seapine had given a toilet paper giveaway back in March, but the renowned Georgetown Brewery says it is unlikely to happen again. Instead, she focused on retail operations in order to survive the likely long winter, with customers not having access until 1 p.m. at least December 14th. “Before the pandemic, we were only in the draft,” says Steve Little, Seapine’s wholesale manager. “We now offer cans with placements in grocery, specialty, and convenience stores in the Seattle-Tacoma area. For the foreseeable future, we’re doubling all off-premise sales. “
That is, some restaurants see a value – or a necessity – in keeping the mood in their stores. The Central District French restaurant, L’Oursin, had just resumed dinner for two nights before Inslee made its announcement. As such, it will revert to some of its earlier take-away options, including the Old Scratch seared chicken and sandwich pop-up while the retail market keeps going for cold cuts and other prepared foods, cheese, meat, fish, and vegetables. “We also have an idea for a limited situation when eating on the terrace, which we hope to implement in the next week,” says co-owner Zac Overman.
With regard to these major grocery purchases, it should be noted that in its recent press conference, Inslee advised against “buying up everything you can get your hands on” and noted, “Our supply chain is good.” Here is a list with tips for buyers.