One super shopper: Carbondalian visits store every day so others can hopefully make fewer trips | PostIndependent.com
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One super shopper: Carbondalian visits store every day so others can hopefully make fewer trips

Peter Mertz exits the Carbondale City Market Wednesday morning, April 8, after taking a quick survey of the items in stock at the store.
Thomas Phippen / Post Independent

As Peter Mertz walks out of the Carbondale City Market, he checks the time.

“Six minutes. I’m lagging,” he mutters.

Just after 8 a.m. Wednesday, Mertz has completed his daily survey of the store, looking at the stock of various items that have been in higher demand than usual during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thermometers, toilet paper, sanitizing wipes, hydrogen peroxide, isopropyl alcohol, vinegar, yeast, tofu were all out. There were about 10 bags of rice, same for flour, plenty of produce, eggs, milk and meat.

He walks quickly through the store, taking a few quick pictures of certain sections, and types up what’s in stock and what’s low as he walks through the parking lot.

Mertz then posted the results on a Carbondale Facebook group, something he’s done every day since the middle of March.

What kicked it all off was the events of March 15, which Mertz refers to as the Ides of March.

Mertz came into the store after it opened that Sunday morning, and asked employees what had happened.

“The staff was all freaked out, they told me the story,” Mertz said.

He then wrote a feature story and submitted it to the Xinhua News Agency, China’s state-run press agency.

“Everybody in Carbondale got mad about the story,” Mertz said.

Mertz his story was significantly edited, and defended the facts in the Facebook comments.

The next day, Mertz made his first post about the supermarket’s stock levels on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17.  That was the day after Gov. Jared Polis ordered all restaurants to close their dining rooms.

After his first post of what the supermarket had, and didn’t have, Mertz said he got a lot of responses.

“That’s kind of what inspired me,” Mertz said. One person commented that the updates were a community service, and Mertz hopes the information is helpful.

Perhaps an elderly person needs one sort of item, but doesn’t know if it’s on the shelves. Mertz’ post could let them know whether a trip to the supermarket is worthwhile.

“This is an information service I’m providing that, hopefully, could even save lives,” Mertz said.

He’s also picked up items that people need during his morning trips and made deliveries.

“I’ve had hundreds of thank-yous, so it’s kind of rewarding,” Mertz said.

When the store does have precious packs of bathroom tissue or other high-demand items, Mertz frequently reminds people to take only what they need.

Only a few people have criticized his daily posts on Facebook, Mertz said. As long as people find the posts helpful, he said he’ll continue.

“I’m totally open to not doing this at all. I’m not here for any reason, I’m just here to help in my own way,” Mertz said.

tphippen@postindependent.com


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