Coronavirus effect: Twin Cities stores run short on sanitizer, face masks — and long-grain rice
A customer looks at rice at Shuang Hur Supermarket on University Avenue in St. Paul, Friday, March 6, 2020. Daisy Haung from Shuang Hur said “most people love their specific grain of rice. A shipment of rice arrives daily. People can follow on Facebook.” (Jean Pieri / Pioneer Press)
By Frederick Melo | firstname.lastname@example.org and Sam Johnson | email@example.com | Pioneer Press
PUBLISHED: March 6, 2020 at 1:43 p.m. | UPDATED: March 6, 2020 at 4:58 p.m.
Madelyn Lee left her East Side home on Thursday on a fruitless quest for two 50-pound bags of long-grain jasmine rice, a staple of Hmong cuisine.
Her odyssey took her, in no particular order, to the Costco Wholesale Warehouse in Maplewood, the Costco in Eagan, the Sam’s Club store in Woodbury, the Sam’s Club in White Bear Lake, and a Restaurant Depot in St. Paul.
“All out,” said Lee, standing over the handful of remaining rice bags on a near-empty pallet at the Shuang Hur Oriental Market on University Avenue in St. Paul. “It’s so crazy. … I just want one or two bags for safety, not five or 10.”
Down the aisle, an apologetic young clerk answered a phone call from a customer eager to know when the next rice shipment would arrive.
In stores across the country, fears of a Coronavirus pandemic have sparked runs on vinyl medical gloves, hand sanitizer, face masks, rubbing alcohol — even toilet paper. Some stores have limited the number of packages of bottled water that customers can purchase at one time.
Nielsen Global Connect, which measures shopping trends worldwide, said shoppers in areas impacted by the virus have begun creating “pandemic pantries,” stocking up on weeks of canned goods, flour, sugar and water, as well as some non-essentials, such as fruit snacks, first-aid kits and vitamin supplements.
Public health officials have discouraged hoarding and overreaction, urging instead that buyers stock up on a few days’ supply of food and other items, just as they would in the face of a bad storm.
The Twin Cities’ Southeast Asian community is struggling through an added concern: long-grain rice hoarding.
At groceries throughout the metro, customers have bought up five or more large bags apiece, wiping out entire pallets of jasmine rice in short order.
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