Hardware and grocery stores throughout the area have seen a run on food and some supplies as residents brace for the arrival of the season’s first significant storms.
Wednesday night, customers had cleared the shelves of premade meals at Metropolitan Market in Tacoma’s Proctor District, said Laurie Horn, assistant deli manager. Workers came in at 2 a.m. Thursday to replenish the store and were still stocking its shelves as of late morning.
“They were taking several soups each. That’s a sign that they’re stocking up,” she said.
Horn characterized the buying activity as “not quite as bad as a snowstorm,” but she expected it to pick up when people get off work Thursday evening.
In Olympia, J&I Power Equipment sold out its stock of 30 generators Wednesday, owner Randy Longnecker said, but because the Honda generator warehouse is in Sumner, the store was expecting to be to be resupplied. Generator shipments are expected at about 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. Thursday (Oct. 13), he said. J&I Power is on Pacific Avenue, not far from Lilly Road, in Olympia. It also has a store in Yelm.
The business is also prepared to extend its hours to accommodate customers, he said.
“If it hits and there’s a widespread power outage, we will open Sunday,” Longnecker said. The business is normally closed that day.
Longnecker cautioned that power cords for generators also sell out very fast.
Customers trickled into Olympia Supply and True Value Hardware all day Thursday to buy batteries, flashlights, propane, lanterns, candles, tarps, sandbags, rope, rubber boots and even waterproof pants.
“We’ll be selling out of a lot of stuff by the end of the day,” said Tom Bean, outside sales manager. “We’re just trying to keep up with what everybody wants.”
One of those customers, Greg Wright of Olympia, bought several types of batteries to go along with the extra food, water and flashlights he keeps on hand.
“The first storm of the year is usually my cue to fire up the generators,” he said. “I think it’s better to be prepared.”
Steve Movius, harbor operations technician at Swantown Marina in Olympia, made sure nearly 550 boats were properly tied to the dock and that sails were properly stored Thursday ahead of the storm. About 73 of the marina’s boats are homes for live-aboard families.
He isn’t worried about the boats blowing away. Any weather-related damage would most likely occur with the boats knocking into one another, said Movius, who also checked on power connections to minimize the risk of fire.
Movius also will be ready to board a 25-foot rescue boat at a moment’s notice — just in case.
“It’s just being hypervigilant about the littlest things,” he said. “I treat all these boats out here like they’re mine.”
At Ace Hardware at South 12th Street and Sprague Avenue in Tacoma, customers were already bringing in generators and chain saws to be serviced before the rain even started, said Deanna Jones, co-owner of the store.
“Yesterday, people came in and bought a whole bunch of wood” to burn for warmth if the power goes out, she said Thursday morning. Customers have also bought flashlights, batteries and replacement chains for their chain saws.
Jones said she expects the biggest rush of customers after the weather passes.
Earlier in the day at Stadium Thriftway in Tacoma, manager Angie Palafox said the store was nearly out of flashlights, another storm preparation staple.
“We will be out of flashlights by the end of the day,” she said, adding that the store was otherwise well-stocked.
McLendon Hardware on North Pearl Street saw a steady stream of customers looking for batteries, firewood, lanterns and flashlights.
“We’re getting a lot of phone calls for generators,” said manager Gary Clark. The store rarely sells generators, and last night customers bought two.
Mostly, Clark said, people are worried about the chance of a power outage.
“This isn’t the Midwest or the Southeast,” he said. “It rains here. We should expect this.”
Still, “It’s been awhile since we had a good, solid storm that put the fear of God into the weathermen,” Clark said.
North End resident Bob Rahal sought a radio and cans of Sterno at McLendon Hardware. He picked up the last hand-crank radio and marveled at his luck. He and his wife of 15 years are ready, he said.
“We’ve got board games. We’ll play by candlelight,” Rahal said.
Across town at Lincoln Hardware on South G Street, flashlights of several types were readily available. There, people are buying what they normally might as fall and winter’s wetter weather approaches: tarps, weather stripping and rodent bait, said co-owner Scott Feist.
“The rodents seem to know that it’s coming,” he said. “Everyone all of a sudden is buying more bait.”
Meanwhile, Kevin Stormans, who co-owns the Ralph and Bayview Thriftway stores in Olympia, said sales of batteries, candles, water and flashlights, have increased but they still have them in stock.
“There is a lift in sales in those items but nothing severe at this point,” Stormans said.
In the event of a power outage, both stores have generators that will power emergency lighting and checkout registers, he said. An extended outage becomes more of a problem, requiring that the store dispose of food that will spoil. At that point, the store would close, he said. Shorter term, perishable food products can be temporarily moved into coolers, Stormans said.
Back in Tacoma, the parking lot for Rainier on Pine, a recreational marijuana shop on South Pine Street, was busy all Thursday morning, said store employee Donnie Gagldari.
Customers “are buying larger amounts (than usual). Some people will buy every other day,” Gagldari said. As of noon Thursday the store has seen “a lot more purchases over $100.”
Still, the store is in no danger of running out, he said. “I am fully stocked and ready to go right now.”
Selecting the right marijuana strain to get through the storm depends on your approach, Gagldari said.
“If you want to sleep through the storm, take an indica,” he said. “If you want to Netflix through the storm until the power goes out, get a sativa.”
Remember, he said, “Indica puts you in da couch.”