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Hundreds line up at Costco to stockpile bulk goods

More than 300 customers flooded in St. Albert store after doors opened
1103 costco
Hundreds of residents lined up outside Costco Tuesday morning to make an early run on the store's toilet paper and bulk food supplies. ANGIE HAMPSHIRE/St. Albert Gazette


The cruise referenced in this article has not been linked to cases of COVID-19.

St. Albert's Costco had one of the busiest mornings staff had seen on Tuesday, the day after seven cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Alberta. 

“Probably the busiest opening I’ve seen for a while ... people were lined up half-way past the liquor store,” said Sheila Chambers, a Costco employee, as she signed off on customer receipts at the door on March 10. 

Approximately 330 people were waiting outside Costco before the doors opened. 

Most grocery carts were stacked with packages of toilet paper, tissue boxes, hand soap and bulk food items.  

“People were orderly because I had mentioned to them when the doors open, they have to wait for the area to be secured. But otherwise, they were pushing in, maybe some words were exchanged.”

Costco’s stock of toilet paper was running out within an hour of opening, and sold out within a few hours, even with a three-package-per-person limit. According to the store's warehouse manager, another shipment is expected tomorrow. 

The store is out of Lysol wipes and running low on other sanitizing products.  

“I think people are worried the demand is going to be higher, and now they’re just getting it because everybody else has,” Chambers said. 

JoAnn McKeown got to the store 15 minutes before it opened, and decided to stand in line after seeing the number of people waiting outside. 

Once doors had opened, she watched as everyone ran through the store to grab toilet paper.

“There were people running, and someone from Costco said, ‘You don’t need to run, there’s lots!’” McKeown said. “I was surprised to come and see a lineup, and I was surprised at how soon they rushed in. It was really strange.”

She said she’s less anxious about COVID-19, and more worried about panicked shoppers stockpiling supply.

“If you don’t think you can get toilet paper for three months because everyone went to town on it, you have to sort of out-think them,” she said. “Everyone went nuts so I joined in for five minutes, then said, ‘Enough is enough.’”

Waiting in line, Gina Gallo had two packages of toilet paper in her grocery cart. She waved a small bottle of hand sanitizer hooked to her purse as a keychain. 

“I carry this with me everywhere,” she said, noting sanitizing products are hard to find lately. 

Gallo said she recently got back from a Princess cruise in the south Caribbean in February. 

The cruise liner has been a focus in the spread of COVID-19, as three Princess Cruise ships had reported positive cases. On Monday, thousands of passengers on a similar 10-day Caribbean Princess cruise were kept on board while crew members are tested in the Grand Cayman island.  

The cruise Gallo was on was the Crown Princess cruise, which has not been linked to any COVID-19 cases.

Gallo said she hadn’t looked into getting tested because she hadn’t heard anything from Princess Cruise about whether there had been any possible exposure to the virus on her ship at the time. 

Four weeks have passed since she’s returned, and Gallo said both herself and other family members on the cruise are in good health. 

 “We’re fine, everyone’s okay, thank god,” she said.

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