Snow means lines and empty shelves
Storm-panicked customers surged the Costco in Leesburg throughout Thursday. Outside, minivans and sport-utility vehicles queued up at the store’s gas station. Check-out lanes inside were backed up 100 feet from the register area, 20-carts deep.
“It’s a madhouse,” said Martha McKay of Purcellvilles. “There’s tons of people buying lots of stuff.”
Billy Wallace, general manager of the store, said the staff was being stretched thin.
“Right now it’s like the holiday sales without the holiday help,” Wallace said. “We’ve got ever register open that we can possibly open.”
In some lines, cashiers and packers were joined by loaders to help pull groceries from baskets and flatbed carts, weighed down with rotisserie chickens, jumbo spaghetti sauces, pizzas, and chocolate milks.
Leesburg resident Sandra Carrington stocked up on staples.
“I have lots of toilet paper, power towels, bottled water, bread, juice, hamburgers,” said Carrington. “I got caught last time,” she said, referring to December's snowstorm. “This time I believe the hype, and I’m out here with these people standing in line.”
At the Giant on Silver Hill Road in Suitland, snow prep was mixed up with the other big event scheduled to dominate the weekend: Super Bowl partying.
"My grandmother already keeps a closet full of toilet paper, I'm here for wings and sodas," said Vel Simmons, 31, of Largo. Her cart was filled with soft drinks, chicken and four bags of Festingos supersized tortilla chips, all for a football party planned for Sunday.
"My brother is calling me like every five minutes. 'Get some chips, get some ranch dip.' I don't know if anybody's going to make it to the house, but we're going to have enough food to survive two blizzards."
-- Steve Hendrix
Even though the sign in the window at the Lowe's Home Improvement store in Largo on Thursday read "Sorry out of shovels and salt," that still did not stop people from flocking in and asking for shovels and salt.
"This has been a time," said David Sersain, operations manager of the store.
James Robinson of Mitchellville was one of the people who came into the store for a snow shovel and was turned away. "Better safe than sorry," he said.
--Hamil R. Harris
By early afternoon Thursday, business was brisk at the Harris Teeter on Capitol Hill as shoppers tried to get a jump on pre-snowstorm shopping, but not overwhelming.
Most lines at the store were five to seven people deep, and the store was well-stocked with staples such as milk, bread, meat, seafood, fresh and frozen vegetables and fruits, and toilet paper.
“I’m being patient. It’s not so bad,” said Stacy Brophy, 38, as she stood in line with a cart full of bottled water, milk, tortilla rounds, and other items. Brophy said she made the mistake of heading to the grocery store the night before December's big snowstorm. She said she ended up spending 2 1/2 hours in the store.
“After the last ordeal, I was like, ‘Never again,’ “ Brophy said.
A few blocks away at the Safeway on Capitol Hill, Joseph Watson, 78, and James Davis, 62, stood at the end of a line that was 20 deep and ended a few feet from the refrigerated milk case. Three other lines were of similar length. But Watson and Davis had no complaints.
“”Well, I’m not upset, because I expect this. This is Washington,” said Watson, of Capitol Hill. Watson said his wife had checked out two books from their neighborhood public library, so he figured he was set for the weekend.
Davis, who lives in the Naylor Gardens section of Southeast Washington, was similarly accepting of his wait.
“I’ve gotten used to it, especially this year,” Davis said. “All I have to do now is get some beer and wine.”
Washington Post editors
| February 4, 2010; 7:15 PM ET
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