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Shoppers Crowd Area Groceries in Search of Staples After Offices Shut Down

By Robyn Lamb
Capital News Service
Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001
; Web-posted at 9:45 p.m.

COLLEGE PARK- Supermarkets throughout central Maryland were flooded with shoppers today, as much of the official Washington was sent home in the wake of the morning attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center.

Shoppers went into winter-storm mode, stocking up on everything from water 
to bread to batteries.

"It was panic buying," said Craig Muckle, a spokesman for the eastern 
division of Safeway. "People don't know if they will be sequestered on a day-to-
day basis."

Groceries were calling their suppliers or warehouses by early afternoon to 
order more stock, and at least one supermarket limited the number of shoppers 
who could enter the store at a time.

From about 11 a.m. on, many Maryland grocery stores were filled. Checkout lines often reached mid-aisle, and some stores ran out of shopping carts.

At a Giant Food in Baltimore, store employee Monica Murphy said it "was 
like a snow day."

In order to deal with the staff shortages, many stores called in outside 
help or asked employees to stay on after their shifts ended. Muckle said that 
managers at most of the Safeway stores joined cashiers to work the overwhelmed registers.

"Employees are out picking up kids from school," Muckle said. "There are 
more customers and a shortage of people."

Melissa Popham said that the Shoppers Food Warehouse in Upper Marlboro was so busy and that people seemed so "on edge" that the store placed a manager at the door to limit entry to two shoppers at a time.

Certain items were scarce by the end of the day. Barry Scher, a spokesman 
for Giant Food Inc., said his stores had to bring in more bread and water from 
their warehouses.

John McDonough of Chevy Chase Supermarket said he was "wiped out" of 
produce, meat and milk. He increased his orders so that he would have 
extra for the next couple of days.

Scher said Giant Food donated products to the Red Cross and 90 pounds of 
burn cream to the Washington Hospital Center. 

Copyright 2001 University of Maryland College of Journalism


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