Local grocery stores affected by coronavirus

Published 6:36 pm Monday, March 16, 2020

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Grocery stores in and around Farmville have been affected by the panic surrounding the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. While the big chains are seeing serious dents in the form of empty shelves, family-owned stores are experiencing a rise in sales.

Shoppers arrived at the town’s Food Lion Monday, March 16, to find several shelves missing some specific products. A “temporarily out of stock” sign hung where the Lysol cans would normally be found. Most of the store’s bleach had been purchased, and the toilet paper shelves did not contain even a single roll.

Despite the lack of certain cleaning supplies, the store still had staples such as rice, beans, pasta, hamburger, eggs and milk, although certain brands were nowhere to be found.

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At the local Walmart Supercenter, the frozen pizza aisle contained slim choices, as did certain nonperishables such as canned pastas, beans and instant ramen. Beef, pork, poultry, bread and egg items were still on the shelves, but many choices were unavailable and the lack of product was noticeable to the eye.

Walmart, too, did not have a single roll of toilet paper on the shelves.

However, a quick trip across town to the Pineview Bulk Food and Deli located at 749 Plank Road provided a sense of normalcy.

Despite a smaller selection of fresh produce, Pineview’s shelves remained rather full Monday. The store’s unique and wide selection of staples like pastas, flour and oats were still plentiful.

Owner of Pineview Omer Petersheim said the store had seen an increase in sales in the wake of the virus, particularly since Thursday, March 12.

The store even had toilet paper present on its shelf, although Petersheim said that most customers are attracted to the business’ bulk food supplies rather than toiletries.

“We’ve been selling a lot of deli meats, sandwiches and stuff like that,” he said.

Petersheim said his business had for the most part been able to keep up with demand, although their small stock of cleaning products, such as Clorox, had dwindled early on during the sale increase.

He added that while he knows the business is not able to compete with chains like Walmart, customers are also drawn to Pineview’s variety of medicinal supplements and oils, and that he has been frequently reordering the products.

Fresh-baked bread, deli meats, made-to-order sandwiches and homemade desserts were still plentiful at the store Monday afternoon.