Shoppers empty store shelves as local businesses battle coronavirus hysteria

Story by Amber Chen
Staff Writer

Photo by Ella Jayasekera
Associate Photo Editor

Resident shoppers have swamped local businesses, with customers emptying shelves and forming long-lines amidst LA County’s coronavirus outbreak. Stores have faced high demand for rationing and hygienic products as citizens brace for the coronavirus pandemic.

The aisles and shelves of local grocery stores such as Trader Joe’s are nearly empty, with especially low stocks of frozen foods, canned foods, breads, and bottled water.

“It’s been really busy. We’re working extra hours and all the employees are very tired. Everyone went into ‘save Trader Joe’s mode,’” an anonymous Trader Joe’s employee said.

Pavilions and Vons are seeing the same pattern play out. The line at Pavilions extended all the way to the edge of the vegetable section — quadruple its normal length. Other accounts have noted the line extending all the way to the meat section. 

Many shoppers are buying in bulk, leaving little left for an increasing crowd of frantic consumers. Toilet paper and paper towels are already nowhere to be found in all stores.

“Now that this is a pandemic and we know practicing social distancing will help kill the spread of COVID-19, [my family] plans to stay home and eat in as much as possible,” South Pasadena resident Charlotte Bourke said. “Plus, there’s a huge unknown here: Two weeks, three weeks, or longer off work and out of school…  I can only surmise that we are afraid, anxious, and don’t know what else to do to prepare.”

Small businesses in South Pas are experiencing the complete opposite. Dinosaur Farm has been forced to substantially cut employee hour times in response to a lack of business.

“I’m working six hours a month as opposed to about 40. I’m getting paid at a normal rate, but not nearly as much because I’m working so little. It’s almost as if I was laid off for this whole month,” Dinosaur Farm employee Nikita Mankad said.

The coronavirus has already taken a toll on other parts of the South Pas community. The City of South Pasadena announced the closure of all city facilities on Mar. 14, while SPUSD schools have begun an early spring break in response to the virus.

This is an ongoing story. All local coronavirus updates can be found here.

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