Area grocery stores rebound after storm causes shortage
December 26, 2006
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. Robert Allen went shopping Tuesday for the makings of a late Christmas dinner that will coincide with his days off later this week. The delay turned out to be a good thing.Any earlier, and the Glenwood Springs resident could have had trouble finding some of the essential ingredients of that meal.Patrons of some area grocery stores encountered shortages of dairy items, produce, meats, breads and other foods in the days leading up to Christmas. The reason was a combination of heavy seasonal demand, and supply problems arising from last week’s snowstorm in Denver, the location of some regional grocery distribution centers.Shelves were still being replenished Tuesday, as Allen came up short in his hunt for beets and red onions. But Allen wasn’t surprised by the grocery shortage.”My wife works for City Market in Carbondale, so I already knew about it,” he said.
As Allen shopped, Chris Barakat, a field merchandiser for City Market, was doing his darnedest to restock empty produce shelves in the Glenwood store.”In a couple hours we’ll be back up to full speed,” he promised, his hands a blur as he refilled a display case with yellow onions. Still, Barakat said that in 20 years in the business he had never seen a shortage among grocery stores like the one over the past week.”I’m from the West Coast, so we don’t have snowstorms,” he said.Chris Staaf, a spokeswoman for Safeway, said that chain’s shortages resulted from a combination of the normal spurt in pre-Christmas grocery shopping, distribution problems related to the storm, and some people stocking up before and during the storm.”It seems like customers go out and when they hear about these big storms, they buy the staples,” she said.John Buxman of Glenwood Springs is vice president of Village Market, which has stores in Snowmass Village, Edwards, Telluride and Moab. Most of the chain’s food comes from Salt Lake City. He said Village Market stores as far away as Moab picked up business from customers who couldn’t find what they needed at stores such as City Market.
Buxman thinks some chains had problems getting employees to Denver distribution centers, and getting trucks from those centers to and from interstate highways.”When you disrupt this busy time of year … there was not enough food in the warehouse to service all those stores. They had to pick and choose who got what, I think,” Buxman said.He said people shopping at Village Market didn’t appear to be in a panic mode, but instead were just relieved they could find what they needed there.”People are really understanding of it, I think,” he said.Buxman said Village Market sometimes has been affected by storms in Salt Lake City.
“The shoe has been on the other foot. It’s just a reality of living in the mountains. Now I think the timing was really sort of bad luck for City Market in this case, being over a busy time of year,” he said.He said he doesn’t recall another grocery supply disruption of several days ever occurring over the holidays.Jackie Ruden, co-owner of the Good Health Store in Glenwood Springs, said the store gets shipments out of Denver but didn’t run into delivery problems. As a result, it also has benefited from business by shoppers who usually go elsewhere – “which is great, send them all this way, we’ll take them all the time,” she said.The Good Health Store carries locally grown produce in the summer. The food shortage of recent days underscored how reliant people have become on food from faraway sources, with supply lines that could be disrupted.”When something like a blizzard occurs, it impacts people farther away than just Denver, it sounds like,” Ruden said.Staaf, of Safeway, said its stores in Glenwood and elsewhere in western Colorado were in pretty good shape Tuesday, with trucks back on the road and daily deliveries occurring.
“They’re getting caught up as we speak,” she said.Contact Dennis Webb: email@example.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO