Store shelves empty during Saturday frenzy buying

Authored by Jim Langham on Jan 6, 2014

Geneva’s Nola Ellenberger summarized Saturday’s mass purchasing at the Community Market in Berne with one question, “isn’t this something?”
Ellenberger isn’t the only one that stood in amazement at the crowds around them on Saturday. Words such as, “crazy,” “unbelievable,” and even good old “wow,” were being used to describe the onslaught of customers at local businesses over the weekend.
“We’re here to buy things because we have two little girls coming to visit us on Tuesday,” said Nancy Graber, who along with her husband, Don Graber, had driven to Berne from their Rainbow Lake home to make sure they were prepared for a predicted impending snowstorm.
Graber represented many of the rural Adams County clientele by noting that their freezer is full of frozen food that could help them through several days of confinement, if necessary.
“The electricity is what really concerns me,” Graber said. “I’m more worried about losing our electricity.”
“This has really been a madhouse,” said Community Market checkout Bristal Hill. “This has been a really, really busy today.”
Greg Gerber, owner of Community Market, said that this weekend’s mass purchasing was one of the largest examples of “panic buying” that he has seen in years.
“People heard that a storm was coming that could be like the Blizzard of ’78,” said Gerber. “They expected to be in for several days.”
Hot items included bread, milk and water, Gerber said.
Gerber said that things were complicated by the New Year’s holiday. He noted that orders are usually made several days in advance. However, certain orders that could have been made for Saturday’s buying couldn’t be made because of the holiday.
“It was a hectic day but customers were very patient,” said Gerber. “You just put everything out to sell as long as you have it.”
Other stores such as the various variety and hardware stories experienced similar types of buying. Many described parking lots such as Walmart in Decatur as practically unapproachable.
Local resident Margie Teboe, who also works at Manley Meats of Monroe, described part of the frenzy she noted on Friday evening.
“I went to Kroger’s on Friday night and there was nowhere to park. The lines were so long that I went to Dollar General to get milk, eggs, batteries and cheese for a good friend,” said Teboe. “It was busy but thank goodness I made it home safe.”
Teboe said that customer concern for the upcoming storm already evidenced itself at Manley’s on Friday.
“We were busy, but not out of anything,” commented Teboe. “I had a real shock when I went to Walmart on Saturday night. There was no bread or orange juice and the store was really busy.”
One employee at CVS Pharmacy in Berne said that things were really “crazy” because people were stocking up on milk and water, but especially on prescriptions.
But it was not only the main stream businesses that were affected by the concern of area residents. People went to quilt and hobby stores to fulfill their commitments.
“I worked at the Quilt Shop and we were extra busy until late in the afternoon,” commented Elsie Wulliman. “Maybe some people wanted to work on some quilting projects because they knew that the storm was coming.”
In Geneva, Mary Fields, who along with her husband, Mike, own the M & M Market, looked at things from a different perspective. She was impressed with the goodness of people that was coming out because of the common concern over health and safety.
“We had a very busy day; people came in buying meat, milk and bread,” said Fields. “I’ve always found that when people have to wait in line for situations like this, they are very helpful, happy and nice. They help carry each other’s groceries and when there is need, they will even step aside to help others.
“Situations like this seems to bring out the goodness of people; I love to see it, it renews my faith in people,” added Fields. “We have wonderful people in our area.”

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