We have all read about or experienced shortages of some products over the last few months. Some are understandable while others have left most people baffled. We can understand short-term shortages of things like masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and other protective gear. But…here is a short list of shortages that we didn’t see coming.
- Ink Cartridges: A trip around town a few days ago showed that the shelves for printer cartridges were bare. With so many working from home, they must be burning through $30 ink boxes pretty fast. Who knew?
- Bicycles: Get exercise at home, they said. Do something with the kids to get them out, they said. Okay, let’s go for a bike ride! But mom and dad need bikes, and not only are the big box stores low on supply, the local bike shops and even the pawn shops are out of bikes. Used bikes for sale in the local online markets are snapped up in hours at premium prices. And parts like tires and tubes are also selling out as people get their old bikes in shape. Who knew?
- Toilet Paper: This one is quite strange and it happened at the beginning of this thing. How will staying at home increase the use of toilet paper by a factor of 100 or more? Why stock up with an extra hundred rolls?
- Bottled Water: Another strange purchase – cases and cases of bottled water. Can’t even comment on this one.
- Popsicles: Grocery stores have periodically run low on popsicles – you know, flavored frozen water. Maybe there’s something medicinal in popsicles that acts as a temporary vaccine?
Other temporary shortages are also a bit baffling, especially at the grocery store. Bread and canned soup come to mind, as well as powdered pancake mix, pre-made cookie dough, sliced cheese product and pop tarts – we’re not facing the apocalypse, we are just not going to work and staying home. Pancake mix?
There have been some more positive things that have popped up, too. Here in DeLand, one of the local theaters painted the side of the building and opened an impromptu drive-in theater showing older movies. For $20 a car the family could go see Shrek or Grease or The Shining with one movie starting at about 8 pm and the next at 10:30. Bring your cooler with drinks and snacks! And they are doing really well with it. Will this prompt entrepreneurs to think about reviving the drive-in movie? I hope so.
There was a meme on Facebook a month or so into the shutdown that I thought was funny and also quite telling. There’s a lady who lives here who says she is my “wife.” She seems nice. We have been forced into staying home, interacting with spouses and family, and for the most part, it’s turned out well. Friends tell stories of how they have returned to simpler times where family meals, family entertainment, and just family have become the center of their lives – again. That’s not bad.
So stay safe, follow the rules, wash your hands and venture out slowly as things begin to reopen. Patronize local small business, and when you leave a tip, be generous. And realize that you don’t need a five-year supply of toilet paper and recognize that that people who has been living with you can really be a lot of fun.