clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Coronavirus Fears Lead to ‘Panic-Buying’ at Bay Area Supermarkets

Also: The founder of Trader Joe’s dies, and more news to start your day

Warehouse Retailer Costco Reports Quarterly Earnings
A Costco in Novato, CA
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

As worries about novel coronavirus continue to spread, a Centers for Disease Control warning that people in the US ought to prepare for the possibility of a pandemic — and, thus, having to stay confined to their homes for as long as two weeks — led to huge crowds at several Bay Area Costco locations and other supermarkets this past weekend.

The Merc News reports that customers at the Santa Clara Costco, for instance, were loading up flatbed carts with things like toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and shelf-stable canned and boxed foods — a phenomenon that’s become common enough, nationwide, that a hashtag, #CostcoPanicBuying, was created to document it. “It’s been going on for four days now,” Abel Zuniga, manager of the San Jose Costco told the Merc. “It’s not just Costcos in San Jose, but the entire region.”

Managers at various Bay Area Costco locations told the SF Chronicle that items like bottled water and bags of rice were being depleted at a much quicker rate than normal. “People were panic-buying,” another Costco customer, in Pacifica, told the Chron, comparing the scene to what you’d typically find in advance of a hurricane or other natural disaster.

Meanwhile, it’s worth noting again: There still aren’t any confirmed cases of coronavirus in San Francisco proper, but Bay Area restaurants continue to report a loss of business in the aftermath of Mayor London Breed declaring a preemptive state of emergency.

And in other news...

  • Joe Coulombe, the founder of the Trader Joe’s specialty grocery stores, died on Friday at the age of 89. Known for its tropical trading post motif and its budget-friendly approach to international food products, Trader Joe’s — which has a couple of dozen Bay Area locations — was a SoCal institution for decades before the chain started its aggressive national expansion in the ‘90s. As noted in obits in the LA Times and elsewhere, Coulombe’s big success was in targeting “well-educated, well-traveled — but less-than-affluent — consumers.” [Los Angeles Times]
  • Popular North Bay coffee shop Acre Coffee has pivoted to...Detroit-style square pizza with a new Sebastopol shop. [Sonoma Magazine]
  • Restaurants and other food businesses at the Barlow, a trendy Sebastopol food complex, are still recovering a year after a big flood caused major damage to 24 of those businesses, shutting many of them down for months. [Press Democrat]
  • Kristi Marie’s, a popular breakfast sandwich spot in Redwood City, has shuttered, citing how much more difficult it is for “the smaller guys” to stay in business. [Palo Alto Online]
  • Over at the SF Chron, food critic Soleil muses on what California cuisine is, really — going all the back to her own childhood barbecue chicken pizza memories at California Pizza Kitchen [SFC]