You’ve tried every grocery store in town and nobody has much in the way of food. You also can’t find batteries of any size or nitrile gloves. This is the reality as coronavirus (COVID-19) reaches across America and people begin to shelter in place. Necessary supplies to fight off the coronavirus spread are at a minimum. So, now what? Do you sit around hoping a delivery truck arrives to one of your usual stops and that you’re lucky enough to get there in time? Maybe try bribing a manager to set something aside for you when they get more stock in? Or, do you start thinking outside the box?
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Where to Go for Coronavirus Supplies
Once you start exploring what lies beyond the beaten path, you may find what you seek, or at least things that will serve a similar purpose. We’re going to take a look at several of these options, but before we do, a couple of caveats.
First, odds are you’ll pay a higher markup on these items compared to where you typically shop for them. Let’s face it, most of us have, if only through trial and error, found where we can rely upon getting the best deal on the things we need. In the examples we’re going to outline here, it isn’t that the proprietors are engaging in price gouging. Rather, it is because the products you’re seeking aren’t their bread and butter, so to speak.
Second, the stock on these things probably won’t be much per store. You likely won’t find a dozen cases of gloves. But, you should be able to find a box or two and that might be enough. It certainly is better than coming home empty-handed. Also, consider that you can order from many of these sorts of companies online. Sure, you might have to bite the bullet and actually pay for shipping. But, better paying a little extra than staring at an empty shelf at home.
Office Supply Stores
As a writer, I’ve long been enamored with office supplies. Pens, notepads, folders, all of it. When back to school sales start up, I’m more excited than my kids to go shopping. Even I was surprised the first time I visited a true office supply store, though. They carry far more than writing utensils and printer ink cartridges.
- Hand sanitizer – from pocket size to bathroom dispensers; or, just make your DIY hand sanitizer if possible.
- Coffee – K-cups, filters, even machines.
- Snack food – sweet, crunchy, all sorts of goodies.
- Bottled water – small or large bottles.
- Cleaning supplies – think janitorial, as well as basic paper towels and such.
Whether we’re talking about one of the giant home improvement warehouses or the neighborhood shop, they usually carry more than just nails, screws, and tools. Now granted, a lot of the standard hardware-type products are, in and of themselves, handy to have for making quick repairs and such when you can’t call on someone to do it for you. But, we’re looking outside the box.
- Toilet paper – this one surprised me, too, but many chain stores do carry it.
- Bottled water – seems like you can find this almost anywhere you shop these days.
- Cleaning products – all manner of disinfectants and other related chemicals.
- Cleaning implements – sponges, scrub brushes, mops, and more.
- Personal protective equipment – safety goggles, gloves, masks.
- Batteries – common sizes, as well as obscure, depending on the store.
Auto Parts Stores
For some, these places are as familiar as their own living room and they love to chat with the employees about engine esoterica. For others, it is aisle after aisle of mysterious implements and intriguing gadgetry. But, hidden among those racks of well-thumbed parts guides and jugs of window wash are a few things that are likely of interest to the pandemic prepper.
- Protective gear – nitrile gloves are usually well-stocked, along with eye protection.
- Shop rags – these work well for many cleaning chores.
- Paper towel – not ideal by any means, but if you’re unable to find toilet paper anywhere …
- Cleaning chemicals – basic stuff like glass cleaner, but still useful.
Farm Supply Stores
You aren’t likely to find these in hardcore urban areas, but they are growing popular in the suburbs. Many of them seem to cater to both the actual farmers and homesteaders, as well as those who hope to join those ranks someday. On one hand, you’ll find virtually everything you’ll need to plant a garden, raise chickens, and fix a tractor. On the other, you’ve never seen so many different home décor products featuring cows in your entire life.
- Pet food – they have a good variety and sometimes in larger bags than you’ll find elsewhere.
- Vet medications – do your own homework, but they do usually carry things like fish mox.
- Garden supplies – come spring, seeds, soil, and such may be available.
- Canning jars and lids – depending on the store and the time of year, these may be on the shelf.
If you have a specific item or brand you’re hunting, try going directly to the source. Many manufacturers sell products direct to customers as well as work through distributors. Not all of them, of course, but enough to make it worth your while to check around. And again, you might talk to those in your circle about a group purchase so as to help spread the cost around.