Why Are Fancy Groceries Madhouses, But Regular Chains Humming Along As Usual?

Different types of people handle situations differently, especially when it comes to stuff like a pandemic of a deadly Wuhan virus. But in New York City and elsewhere, an interesting pattern is emerging in regard to fancy chain grocery stores like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods which have been picked over like a carcass and still have long lines. Meanwhile, regular neighborhood chain stores have a few shortages, but are operating pretty normally.


I’m seeing the same thing here. We’ve only got one national chain store, Walmart, and while it was out of stock for shit like paper products, cleaning supplies, canned goods, meats and flour, the Piggly Wiggly, Mike’s Foodland in Westmoreland and Lafayette Food Market had all that on their shelves and at the same prices as before all this started.
I did go into Walmart this morning though, and it was stocked better today than it has been in the past couple weeks except for toilet paper, paper towels and some cleaning supplies. There was a good choice of meats and canned goods – still some empty spaces, but better than it was a week ago.

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34 Responses to Why Are Fancy Groceries Madhouses, But Regular Chains Humming Along As Usual?

  1. Alan says:

    Working theory: Trader and Whole have a lot of specialty brands and products that have a lot longer supply chain. Piggly, ‘hey, we need cans of beans, yeah, Bush’s are fine, gimme three pallets’. I’ve shopped at all of the above, love Trader Joe’s, but fancy is hard to source.

  2. Heathen says:

    Stopped in at both Kroger & Save A Lot this morning during their “Senior Shopping hours”.
    Noticed that shelves had more available than after the locusts went through.

    Talked with one of the people working at Save A Lot and remarked on how things were a little better,but wondered how it would look after the “checks” come out the first weekof the month. She said that had crossed her mind too.

    • Elmo says:

      Northern California reporting –
      Target just started a weekly “Old Farts” early hour on Wednesdays only. My lovely bride arrived 1/2 hour after it began. Included in her shopping were a 10 roll package of paper towels and a 24 roll package of tush paper. She stated the paper section was about half full. Stocks of everything else seemed about normal.
      The folks under 60 were being kept outside until senior hour was over.

      And I’ll bet you’re right about the stores getting slammed after the direct deposits are in the bank. Good time to avoid shopping.

    • Danne says:

      Same scenario here. Our Safeway was raided by big city folks when the panic started. Now that people are quarantined or sheltering in place, those big city locusts are staying nearer home and not out raiding places distant. Slowly our store has began restocking very well, most all items are in stock. Locals shopping as always, buying for immediate needs with no fear hysteria. That’s one good thing that’s come of this, keeping the small local economies a bit sheltered from the lemmings.

      • WestcoastDeplorable says:

        The wife & I rose early this AM and took advantage of the “Early Senior hour” for those 65+ at the nearby Smart & Final. They now have the store all set up for “social distancing” and they actually had huge packs of t-paper and paper towels. We left with a smile on our faces!

  3. Ken M says:

    Not in west Texas! Chain stores and locals alike have been stripped. Haven’t seen any paper products in 10 days, meat fruits and vegetables are literally pulled off the restock carts…people are basically insane at this point

  4. Tino says:

    I think that the people that shop at Trader Joe’s etc may feel they are more important than us regular people who don’t/can’t spend the prices that those kinds of stores have. I have walked through one or two of those types of stores and I wasn’t going to pay those kinds of prices even though I could afford them.

    • Henk says:

      It is more likely that those that shop at the ‘did you see me shopping in this overpriced self important store?’ type of people have the financial reserves stocking up on six years worth of panic food. It is the little guy who, even if he stocks up, stocks up for maybe one or two weeks.

  5. T Town says:

    Here is an article from a week ago that explains what is going on, and appears to be an accurate analysis of the situation.

  6. rob says:

    There’s no mystery here.

    The clientele of Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods is overwhelmingly Middle Class Hip – what is
    so accurately labeled “Cultural Marxist.”

    They’re panicking, and they’re lemmings. It would never occur to them to bring shame on their families by shopping at a Safeway. What would they talk about over the arugula?

  7. hvlee says:

    Went to Kroger this morning looking for eggs and ground beef. The first store didn’t have either but at the next Kroger they were stocking both. It was just timing. Probably both were gone later in the day. They did have a lot of store brand toilet paper, paper towels and “kleenex”. and mostly everything else in both stores and weren’t crowded. I haven’t been to Trader’s during the panic. There’s not much there for us anyway. They are mostly swarming all the time but it’s in a college town so what do you expect.

  8. joe says:

    Glen Arbor, Michigan. Only one store in town and it’s as if nothing is going on. Fully stocked including toilet paper and paper towel. I was there this morning at opening, the only one in the store and it was fine. If you go to Traverse City it’s a madhouse.

    • Tsgt Joe says:

      You guys are in a good spot, glen arbor is not on the way to anywhere. If I were around traverse it wouldn’t occur to me to go to glen arbor or empire.

      • joe says:

        Especially this time of year. Summer is another thing altogether. As a builder, I can’t complain because that’s where the money comes from. It’s a beautiful area so can’t complain.

  9. Chris says:

    Honolulu too. Especially ‘Dom Quijote Hawaii’ which is a Japanese chain store right by Ala Moana. Open 24 Hours but has everything you need especially if you at 4am before paddling out for a surf! Plus they have ‘Ice Cream Bananas’ a local treat…http://donquijotehawaii.com/

  10. Nemo says:

    I live in a New England state and shop at a large regional chain. I went to my local grocery store last Friday, early AM. BARE ASS NAKED shelves everywhere in the store. Fresh vegetables and fruits were in good supply, but they jacked the prices about 50%.

    There was virtually NO CANNED FOOD of any type anywhere in the store. Spaghetti and spaghetti sauce aisle BARE ASS NAKED. Frozen vegetables BARE ASS NAKED. Beef case mostly empty. Chicken case mostly empty. The dairy aisle was the only section that had pre kung flu stock. Plenty of eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, butter etc.

    The place looked like it had been looted, except that there were no obviously damaged goods laying around like one would expect in such a scenario.

    I’m going there again tomorrow, in the afternoon this time, to see if things have changed. They usually get their day’s deliveries starting around 9:00AM and stock shelves all day long. I’d at least like to replace what I’ve used in the last couple weeks.

  11. Jeff Tracy says:


    Around here, it’s the other way around. The Lady of the House decided to make Banana Bread this afternoon, and discovered that we were out of eggs.

    So, I was dispatched. Dollar General carries eggs, and is the closest. They were out. I went from there to Cash Savers in the middle of Town. They were out.

    I then went to WalMart. They still had about 20 Dozen packages of Jumbo eggs, so I got one of ’em.

    The shelves are thin at Wally World, but the other local purveyors of edible commodities are mostly cleaned out on a lot of other things, also.

    I probably would have better luck at 0800 than I do at 1430, but that’s an experiment for another day. I got the eggses, and all is good in my house.

  12. Charlie Hargrave says:

    I went to our local chain of thursday. No eggs, no bread, no pasta or sauces, no rice, no flour, hand cleaner, no paper products at all. Half empty was orange juice, cheese.

  13. Daryl says:

    I just gotta say the even here in West Virginia we don’t, or at least I don’t, consider Walmart a fancy store. Then I think a bit and realize there isn’t a fancy grocery here.

  14. =TW= says:

    So Cal chain supermarket Tuesday: very little meat, some chicken, no eggs, plenty of milk and cheese, no paper products. Good selection of produce except potatoes.
    Didn’t check the canned food aisle- I have enough on hand, but last week shelves were bare.
    Pet foods well stocked.
    Restaurants all closed, fast food places drive thru/take out only.
    ARCO gas $2.77 for regular, all other brands $3.15– 3.75.

    Garcetti just went full Nazi.

  15. Donnie says:

    I just found ground beef for the first time in 2 weeks here in s/w OH. The kind that’s wrapped up in a condom. 2lb pkg for $10.59!! Ken, you mentioned picking up some ham hocks the other day. I can’t find those things with a search warrant here for the lost couple years. If I do, it’s higher than strip steak was a couple years ago. I don’t know what’s up with that. Guess they’re a delicacy now.

  16. Heathen says:

    With all the Amish in my county, eggs likely aren’t a problem.

  17. CC says:

    Groomer’s Seafood in SA is stocking beef, chicken and assorted fruits & veggies in response to all this; gotta wonder how all the little local bodegas are doing, and the people who rely on them.

  18. Devil Tongue AKA, John Biglin says:

    I can’t believe my “PREPPER” neighbor just come by begging for TP. He lives with two women and did not get what he needed. Walmart, Walgreens, Dollar General, etc., same same. I ask if he’d had any at all, “yep, I have some”, i said good luck on finding more. He wasn’t getting my stash.

  19. Sanders says:

    We were able to do our regular grocery shopping this week. Only thing not on shelves were the paper goods, but we’re good on that. Even had potatoes and pasta in stock.

    The strange one for me was that the dairy section had been hit hard – no sour cream, cottage cheese or butter. Some milk. Plenty of half-n-half and whipping cream and all the fake milk, though.

    Did this thing affect cows, or what?

    There were plenty of eggs, and my chickens have been laying, so I’m good there.

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