HUACHUCA CITY — The mood at the Dollar General Store in Huachuca City on Saturday was probably best described as “celebratory.”
Never mind the long lines.
Nor was Arizona Rangers’ presence a concern. Customers even seemed oblivious to intermittent stretches of sparsely stocked shelves.
Folks were just plain thrilled to get their hands on toilet paper.
“Customers knew we were expecting a delivery at 9 (a.m.) and they were already lined up at the door by 7:30 this morning,” said store manager Jane Brant. “So, toilet paper is our big draw today. People are absolutely ecstatic.”
Three Arizona Rangers were on hand to assist with crowd control, just in case things got a little crazy.
“Because of the shortages that stores are going through right now, we’re here to help with the crowd and see that everything runs smoothly,” said Ranger James Howe, who was stationed at the front door where he greeted customers with a cheerful, “Are you here for toilet paper?”
All toilet paper-seekers were directed to a line at one side of the store, where customers pulled packs out of cardboard boxes and loaded them into their grocery carts.
No need to stock shelves. The supply of paper towels and toilet paper was gone within three hours from the time it was delivered.
Ranger Al Hirsch was in the back of the store, where deliveries are dropped off, helping employee Becky Cougot open boxes and shove them out to the line of customers.
“I’ve been working here for four years and have never seen anything like this at our store,” Cougot said. “When you think about how worried everyone is about getting supplies, our customers have been considerate and respectful through this.”
RVers Sandra and Paul Saunders stopped by the store for a few items before heading down the road toward their home in Colorado.
“We haven’t been able to find toilet paper or paper towels anywhere and that includes the big box stores, so we’re pleasantly surprised,” Sandra Saunders said. “We were a bit taken aback to see Arizona Rangers here when we first walked in, but everyone was great. I’ve never seen people so giddy over toilet paper before.”
Like most of the people at Dollar General that morning, Huachuca City resident Julie Star and her 6-year-old grandson, Jacob Swick, toilet paper was the main attraction.
“I’m here to buy paper products for my disabled neighbor and my own family, so I’m beyond thrilled about the toilet paper,” Star laughed. “We’ve had a very hard time finding certain items because of this health crisis. I think we all need to take a deep breath and just use our heads through this,” she added. “God will take care of us and we’ll get through this.”
Within three hours after the delivery, Dollar General had sold out of its paper products.
“I think this buying panic is going to settle down once people realize there’s no need to hoard supplies,” Dollar General customer Eric Patterson said. “My understanding is that these items are not in short supply, but the hoarding has created a disruption in the supply chain, which then accounts for the shortages we’re seeing. Hoarding is a big problem right now.”