Grocery Guide

Grocery Store Madness Just in Case of a Quarantine (We Think)

The bleak image of a lone cart available at a Costco packed with shoppers inside.
The bleak image of a lone cart available at a Costco packed with shoppers inside. Photo by Gary Beaver
Chips it became clear, are really important for the end times. Trips to several greater Houston area grocery stores Thursday revealed completely empty shelves in certain sections of the store while shopping carts became a prized acquisition.

Apparently sparked by fears of CORVID-19 and despite Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner's pleas not to panic, customers — while not seemingly panicking — were loading up on household supplies and staples at an amazing pace.

It was both like and unlike preparation for a hurricane. Most people seemed to be passing by the stand of batteries at the front of the store (no expected power outages) and heading right for the canned goods and scouting for toilet paper.  However the same sense of camaraderie before and after any natural disaster seemed to be on full display — people being friendly and helping each other find the things they needed.

TP?  Tough to find. The places that still had it left were rationing it along with diapers, paper towels, water (of course) and other supplies. Paper towels could be a tough substitute for the Charmin. Shoppers scanned the highest shelves, looking to pull down a package that others had somehow missed. 
click to enlarge The rules at the Costco near Willowbrook Mall. - PHOTO BY GARY BEAVER
The rules at the Costco near Willowbrook Mall.
Photo by Gary Beaver
The H-E-B at Sienna Plantation in Missouri City had plenty of (rationed) water, but toilet paper was harder to find. The canned vegetable aisles had been raided and if you were looking for canned soup, forget it. "We were doing fine till last night when everyone started coming in," an obviously tired cashier said. It was about 1:30 in the afternoon on a Thursday and the store was packed with lines at checkout even though they'd obviously brought extra people on. "It's been like this all day," she said, shaking her head.



click to enlarge This H-E-B employee was hustling in the middle of the day to restock more potato chips. - PHOTO BY MARGARET DOWNING
This H-E-B employee was hustling in the middle of the day to restock more potato chips.
Photo by Margaret Downing
click to enlarge Apparently soup is a really important comfort food. - PHOTO BY MARGARET DOWNING
Apparently soup is a really important comfort food.
Photo by Margaret Downing

Things were even more severe at the H-E-B in Montrose as intrepid photographer Reggie Mathalone discovered.

click to enlarge Miles and miles of nothing. - PHOTO BY REGGIE MATHALONE
Miles and miles of nothing.
Photo by Reggie Mathalone
click to enlarge A limit of two with sadly only one left. - PHOTO BY REGGIE MATHALONE
A limit of two with sadly only one left.
Photo by Reggie Mathalone
Photographer Doogie Roux captured the lines at H-E-B Montrose.
click to enlarge The long lines at H-E-B Montrose - PHOTO BY DOOGIE ROUX
The long lines at H-E-B Montrose
Photo by Doogie Roux

Maybe overnight restocking will work miracles, but otherwise this is what you have to look forward to.

click to enlarge Talk about a long dark look into the void. - PHOTO BY DOOGIE ROUX
Talk about a long dark look into the void.
Photo by Doogie Roux
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Margaret Downing is the editor-in-chief who oversees the Houston Press newsroom and its online publication. She frequently writes on a wide range of subjects.
Contact: Margaret Downing