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From sidewalk salt to bread to wine, stores are ready for storm shoppers | TribLIVE.com
Valley News Dispatch

From sidewalk salt to bread to wine, stores are ready for storm shoppers

Dillon Carr
| Thursday, January 17, 2019 8:13 p.m

Shopping before the storm

Snow Blower Sales

Many are doing what they can to prepare for snow, rain and sleet predicted to pelt the region this weekend.

“We’re ready to go,” said Steve Cowan, spokesman for PennDOT’s District 11, which covers Allegheny, Beaver, Butler and Lawrence counties. He said crews have pretreated the roads with a brine solution and, as of Thursday before rush hour, were waiting for snow to fall.

The National Weather Service in Moon said rain and snow are expected to pick up before 4 p.m. Saturday, switch briefly to a mixture of rain, snow and sleet between 4 and 5 p.m. and then rain and snow after 5 with temperatures around 35.

The timetable for when the snow will hit, and how long it will snow, had not been pinpointed as of Thursday afternoon.

However, the weather service issued a winter storm watch for portions of Western Pennsylvania from Saturday morning through Sunday afternoon.

The weather service is forecasting for 3 to 12 inches of snow and some ice.

Its advisory said travel could be “very difficult to impossible” during the storm.

If the storm gets really bad over the weekend, PennDOT’s District 12 might send some of its trucks from its 196-truck fleet. That district covers Westmoreland, Fayette, Greene and Washington counties.

“But that decision hasn’t been made,” said Jay Ofsanik, spokesman for District 12. He said usually that happens only under emergency situations where areas are getting heaps of snow.

“Only when it’s excessive,” Ofsanik said. “We’re not sending teams when there’s only 3 inches more than what we get. But if they requested it, we would send help.”

Both District 11 and 12 spokesmen said their crews are prepared for the challenge.

“Our salt supplies are adequate,” Cowan said. “We haven’t had too much snow this year, so we have plenty of salt on hand.”

Stocking up

Michael Moses, manager and owner at Golden Dawn Supermarket in New Kensington, said people have been rushing to the store since it opened Thursday morning.

“And it’s been going all day. … It will be at least a ‘double day,’ ” Moses said, referring to sales. He expected more of a rush as people got off work.

Moses said he and his staff ordered several extra pallets of rock salt, and milk and bread. Orders have doubled within the past couple days as weather predictions rolled in.

“Those are the two top items,” he said, referring to bread and milk. “They come, they stock up, they say, ‘We’re going to buy what we need now because we’re going to hang out at home.’ ”

That’s exactly what Lori Odrey, 56, of New Kensington was doing Thursday afternoon.

“I am shopping for the weekend because I hear there’s some snow coming,” she said. “I’m usually not fearful of this reason, but I’m shopping because I have nothing in the refrigerator or the freezer. So it’s time to stock up.

“When they say ‘snow,’ it’s probably time to listen.”

David Rejniak, 63, of New Kensington’s Parnassus neighborhood said he doesn’t understand the “stocking up mentality.” He was doing some routine shopping at the bustling Golden Dawn.

“The meteorologists, they’re scaring the living daylights out of people with the forecast for the weekend. And I think it’s funny because if you don’t have enough of toilet paper, eggs, milk or bread to last you three days, then I feel sorry for you, you know?

“I have enough in my house that I could be snowed in for six months and I’ll be fine.”

Giant Eagle experiences similar trends to the independent grocery stores before a snowfall.

“We contact key vendor partners to ensure that we are receiving adequate supplies of common winter storm staple grocery items like milk, bread and eggs,” said Dick Roberts, a spokesman for the grocery chain.

Most of its shoppers go there on the weekend. But when snow is predicted, Roberts said customers typically get everything they need early to weather a weekend storm, including beer and wine.

Uptick in booze, salt sales

A lot of people stock up on booze — both at grocery stores and state-run Fine Wine and Good Spirits stores.

In general, wine and liquor sales increase when snow is predicted, said Shawn Kelly, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.

“We generate higher sales during winter storms than (heavy summer) storms,” Kelly said. And all alcohol, in this case, is created equal.

“There’s no real difference between wine and spirit (sales),” he said.

When Winter Storm Stella dumped about 3 feet of snow in the hardest-hit areas of the Northeastern United States in March 2017, Kelly said Pennsylvania saw retail sales increase by 16 percent.

Some people are stocking up on more practical items, like rock salt.

Leechburg’s Kiski Plaza Garden and Feed Center is seeing people buying rock salt and other ice melters. Owner Dave Vargo said sales increase by about 20 percent to 30 percent.

“It’s not really a rush. We see an uptick, but nothing crazy,” Vargo said. “It’s not like stuff’s flying out the door.”

“But it’s 8 inches (of snow). … It’s not like we’re going to be destitute or bound to the house for days at a time,” he said.

Nevertheless, Vargo said he made sure the store was stocked with those items, along with dog food and bird feed.

“We’re ready for it,” he said.


Dillon Carr and Tom Davidson are Tribune-Review staff writers. Contact Dillon at 412-871-2325, dcarr@tribweb.com or via Twitter @dillonswriting. Contact Tom at 724-226-4715, tdavidson@tribweb.com or
via Twitter @TribDavidson.


Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Dillon at 724-850-1298, dcarr@tribweb.com or via Twitter .


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LOUIS B. RUEDIGER | TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Chris Stone, service technician at Ace Hardware in New Kensington, moves a snowblower through the showroom on Thursday, Jan 17, 2019.
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