With the snow and ice along North Texas highways melted, most stores are beginning to get back to business.
Jabo’s Ace Hardware in Keller was among stores that saw a busy flow of customers Saturday. The store lost power Sunday night through Thursday when it reopened to serve customers in need of supplies.
Customers were escorted through the dark store by sales associates using cell-phones and headlamps as light, sales associate Grant Adler said.
“It was almost like muscle memory, just because we’re doing this daily,” Adler said. “Without lights, we still knew exactly where to go, exactly what customers needed.”
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Store manager Brian Althoff said the coming days would be all about learning what customers need to fix their homes. The power flickered back on across most of Texas by the end of the week, but millions in the state have been confronted with a shortage of drinking water and bursting pipes.
Althoff said the store had been sold out of heaters for about a week, but the biggest demand now was SharkBite plumbing products.
“A lot of customers aren’t necessarily plumbing experts or electrical experts,” he said. “So, we’re looking to fulfill their needs with quick fixes in plumbing, because there are plumbers out there who are going to booked, maybe until March.”
One of those plumbers is John Miller, who said it’s been tough to find all of the products he’s needed this week as his workload keeps growing.
“I’ve literally had to try to buy parts that weren’t made for the job I’m doing and just try to make it work to get some water on, you know?” Miller said.
Because of the inclement weather this week, Althoff said trucks have been delayed in their product delivery. One of their warehouses was shut down due to a water outage. They’re hoping to have more products in stock Sunday, he said.
“We’re just waiting on the next truck and just letting (customers) know we will get items in. We will have them soon,” he said. “We’ve got employees that are out of water, that have had their water mains burst, that have been without electricity just like the customers are, so we feel their pain.”
Inventory is a challenge facing several grocery stores as well.
April Martin, corporate affairs manager for Kroger’s Dallas division, said all of their stores were open Saturday. Just like the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Martin said some of their shelves were full while others were bare.
“This is definitely unique. I think we learned a lot from COVID-19,” Martin said. “It’s almost like the community goes on temporary paralysis. We can’t visit like we would. We can’t visit stores like we would. We can’t visit each other like we would.”
However, hazardous roads also impacted trucks from reaching their distribution center.
“We are anticipating a rush, we are,” Martin said, referring to this weekend. “I think as a consumer, I would want to go early in the morning if I could.”
Improved road conditions were helping with inventory but it would take some time to fully replenish, Martin said.
“Patience. One big thing we learned from COVID-19 was about the panic shopping. Do not panic shop,” she said. “We’re in this together. We’re going to get through this together. Just know our trucks are running, our stores are open. Our associates are there.”
For the time being, Kroger has placed purchase limitations on certain products. Customers can buy two of each: beef grind, milk, orange juice, poultry, propane, water, bread, briskets, charcoal, eggs, fire logs and frozen pizzas.