LUSK – Shortly after astonishing reports of toilet paper shortages in urban areas hit the news, shocked citizens of Lusk began to notice a significant drop in local supplies as well.
By March 13, toilet paper supplies were running out or low at Decker＊s market. By March 20, though some supplies had been restocked, employees had to begin rationing those supplies and limiting the number of items customers could purchase in one day.
This shortage began to extend to other items as well, most notably eggs, milk, cream, creamer, convenience foods like ramen noodles and particularly bread. A supply shortage that continues to baffle and frustrate local customers, it is just as frustrating for Decker＊s employees and manager Kevin Lane. The shortage is largely caused by out of town customers traveling to Lusk and panic purchasing supplies in the first week of pandemic-related travel and work restrictions.
Lane reports people from as far away as Denver and Rapid City have traveled into Lusk when they heard there were still groceries and paper supplies available on Decker＊s shelves. Employees and local customers watched in disbelief as, prior to item restrictions, travelers loaded up their carts with supplies and groceries to last them weeks and checked out, taking all of Niobrara County＊s groceries with them.
The problem that many from out of town don＊t realize is that, unlike stores in more populated areas, Decker＊s doesn’t receive multiple shipments a day. They don＊t even receive multiple shipments in a week.
Generally, the market is limited to one shipment a week from each supplier whether, it be bread or produce. They rely on a warehouse to provide the staples of the grocery store and the warehouse began limiting the number of items that they could order. This was a trickle-down effect from the panic buying in the areas that the warehouse supplies or even obtains supplies from.
That first week, Lane had ordered forty cases of toilet paper and received five. The second week he was informed that because of the bread shortage in Denver where the house bakery is located, he would not be able to receive even his normal shipment of bread. The factory couldn＊t keep up with local demand, let alone fulfill all its orders.
Lane said it’s difficult to predict when supplies available for order will return to normal levels. He would like to remind all customers that while they will do their best to maintain stock, it has become necessary to limit the number of certain items that one customer can purchase. Employees are only following management＊s request to monitor these items. Customers are also asked not to ※hoard§ groceries and supplies. If they genuinely have enough on hand for a 2-3 week supply, please do not purchase more, limiting what is available to other customers.
Some customers are restricted to what they can purchase either because of their health status (diabetic or food allergies) or because of purchasing programs like WIC. In the event that a customer removes the final item on a shelf, customers are asked to notify an employee so they can follow up to ensure accurate inventory and ordering.
In addition, those employees are risking their own health to keep Deckers＊ doors open and continue to serve the community. Please keep this in mind and stay home if you are experiencing any symptoms of illness. Additionally, please observe hand hygiene before and after your shopping experience to avoid the transmission of any illnesses into and out of the market.