Those photographs were taken at a local major chain grocery store on the evening of 03-13-2020. The chain in question is one of the biggest in the USA, and this location is one of their premiere stores. Well taken care of, and not very old at all.
By now, photos like these are common on the internet and the news. Take a good look at them. If all you see are empty shelves, you aren’t looking at the whole picture. Sure, there are the obvious things such as the emptiness of the shelves, how each one of those vertical black stripes are separated by four linear feet of space, how many shelves there are, the products that are missing, etc. However there is allot more information in those photographs that many people miss.
Information that we have seen time and time again such as how unprepared and panicky people are. We’ve seen these images before. With the SARS scare, H1N1, Swine Flu, and more. We see similar sights on a local level when a snowstorm is predicted, whenever any potentially major event presents itself such as hurricanes, spreading illnesses, etc. It seems that each time that some potential doom hovers on the horizon, people are filled with fear and panic buy the stores clean.
Why? Because they are not prepared. They forget the lessons they should have learned when these circumstances last presented themselves. They forget the anxiety, the stress they experienced the last time they had to get to the store and buy weeks worth of food and household supplies. They forget the fear that gripped them as they stood looking at empty shelves where medicine should have been; medicine they needed to buy but couldn’t. They forget that this whole country runs on “just in time” replenishment and so any spike in buying results in empty shelves. Once people see empty spots on store shelves, it increases the panic and they start buying out the “second” options. Then those spots empty out, which further feeds the panic until people are buying whatever is left; stuff that is never a part of their regular diet, but they will buy every unit of it anyway!
Once the threat has passed and everything returns to normal, they lapse back into complacency and allow themselves and their households to slide back into a position of unpreparedness requiring another session of panic buying whenever the next threat presents itself.
Consider the items that are sold out- medicines that treat flu symptoms, bath tissue, paper towel, antibacterial cleaning supplies, and food- particularly food that has a long and stable shelf life such as rice, dried beans, pasta and canned foods.
My family was not panic buying. We weren’t worried about that. We paid attention to our grandparents who almost always had weeks and months worth of food in their homes. We remembered how others panicked when the aforementioned viruses or snowstorms were looming on the horizon. Sure, we go to the store regularly- for things such as fresh fruits and vegetables, milk and dairy products, specialty items, and to simply top off our supplies. However, we typically have enough long term food on hand to eat well for quite a while. Thus, I wasn’t at the store filled with anxiety and desperately trying to get my hands on as much as I could. I was there for a package of sliced cheddar cheese, some eggs, and maybe a gallon of milk. We weren’t filled with fear and panic because we were already prepared for the most part. The shortages resulting from interruptions in manufacturing, distribution, and stock levels are things we’ve seen before and decided to hedge against. I knew COVID-19 had the potential to be rather bad.
How did I see how bad COVID-19 could be? I did it by paying attention to reality, and dismissing the propaganda early on. When this issue first came to light, I read reports stating that the mortality rate was approximately 3%. Okay, so then why was China quarantining entire cities with populations of millions of people over a virus that had a significantly LOWER mortality rate than the annual flu?
I didn’t see how big COVID-19 was going to get, just how bad it could. The “experts” didn’t see it either, they usually don’t. But I do know a little about people, and I saw how bad COVID-19 and how bad public perception could become; thus I took preemptive action.
I checked our stocks of food, household supplies, and over the counter medicines. I immediately topped of the medicines first, then brought everything else up to the normal levels. Within a few weeks, we saw the beginnings of the panic as the talking heads started arguing about it and people started buying. The first shortages we noticed were OTC medications and supplements. Especially stuff to treat flu symptoms and support immune health. Next came long term storable foods- the rice, beans, and canned stuff. Next was the paper products, and now it’s almost everything.
LEARN FROM THIS– when something like this arrives, that shiny stuff many spend their money on suddenly doesn’t matter anymore, does it? Now it’s a desperate rush to secure the things in life that DO matter- the 3 B’s; Bandages, Beans, and Bullets. Yes, common calibers of ammunition are also sold out in many places and prices are soaring!
Once this has passed, sit down and examine YOUR pantry, YOUR medicine cabinet, and if applicable, Your ammunition stock levels. Instead of eating out a few times, devote those funds to establishing and maintaining stock levels of the very things that disappear so quickly when disaster looms. Look at how much of each type of item your family goes through on a weekly and monthly basis and start stock up to those levels. You don’t have to do it all at once, simply buy a few extra “reserve” items each time you go to the store. Once you achieve your goal levels, maintain them and USE them. Practice FIFO- First In = First Out to maintain stock that is in date and useable. Every Autumn, we pick up cold and flu remedies BEFORE cold season and flu season arrive. That stuff usually has a shelf life of at LEAST a year. Then, if illness hits, not only do we not have to worry about potentially competing with so many other sick people for limited stocks of medicine, we also don’t have to leave the house when we feel like crud in the first place.
You can choose to panic with the herd every time some boogeyman pops up on the horizon, or you can choose to be confident and secure like a good shepherd of your household. Which one do you want to be?, and what are you teaching your children who learn more by example than you realize?