Megastores like Costco, Sam’s Club, Walmart, and Target see a fair amount of toilet-paper hoarding under ordinary circumstances, but in recent days the coronavirus has turned that into something like a sport. Many are tapped out on TP.
That said, you can still find toilet paper in the Valley. Don't buy marked-up rolls on OfferUp. Here’s a shelf-by-shelf look at several Phoenix grocery stores — everything from the mood on the ground to what’s selling out.
Warning: A trip to Trader Joe’s at 4821 North 20th Street may cause you to overreact, grab everything in sight (which isn’t much) and leave feeling like the end of the world is imminent. Trader Joe’s Ricotta & Spinach Filled Ravioli is long gone. Beans and pasta are totally wiped out, and frozen food is starting to look pretty barren as well. Customers’ expressions range from clenched teeth to WTF. Employees are all smiles, which almost cancels out the mayhem. Almost.
Los Altos Ranch Market
The music and festive atmosphere at Ranch Market (1602 East Roosevelt Street) is still going strong. The party packs of chips, fresh pico, stacked avocados, cans of beans, and cases of soda are well stocked. Nothing seems too different here, until you hit the toilet paper and bottled water aisles (supplies of both are almost gone). Looking around, though, most carts are filled with dinner essentials, not panic essentials.
The Safeway at 340 East McDowell Road is a toilet paper wasteland, but if you don’t mind wiping with paper towel, Bounty is still bountiful. Orange juice has been pillaged, but beef jerky is still in play. The canned beans section is starting to thin, but there are still lots of cereal and granola bars. Cart pushers range from those stockpiling isolation supplies to the 15-items-or-less crowd, including a mother and daughter picking up cupcake ingredients for a sleepover.
If you’re going to Sprouts Farmers Market at 2824 East Indian School Road for toilet paper, hand sanitizer, or aloe vera gel, fuhgetaboutit. Frozen foods are pretty much gone, too — unless you don’t mind settling for a cauliflower crust pizza or multigrain waffles. Baking flour is also flying off the shelves, yet there’s an abundance of bottled water.
At Whole Foods in Phoenix (4701 North 20th Street) the elderberry syrup is gone, toilet paper is long gone, and coffee is starting to go. But not all customers are coming in just to stock up on isolation rations; lots of carts are just kombucha and artisanal ice cream. Still, panic seems to be settling in with some cashiers. “Where am I going to get toilet paper?” wondered one cashier who didn’t get off until 9:30 p.m. Friday night.
99 Cents Only Store
It’s business as usual at 99 Cents Only Stores (1240 East Indian School Road). Almost. They’re totally out of rubbing alcohol and black licorice, but only one of those is likely due to coronavirus. Otherwise, there are canned goods, dried beans, fresh produce, orange juice, and snacks aplenty. Plenty of cleaning and craft supplies, too, for when you find yourself home and bored.
Baiz Fresh Foods (523 North 20th Street) is pretty chill. They’re out of toilet paper, but shelves are still stocked with sacks of rice, vats of beans, and cans of sardines. People are picking up tahini or chicken for dinner like normal. If you need fresh-baked baklava and food shopping without a side of panic, this Middle Eastern market is your place.
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Your best bet for toilet paper: Food City, at 2124 East McDowell Road. While you’re there, get canned beans, ramen, tomato sauce, rice, and cerveza. Corona, anyone? We kid.