and Carolyn Wall
roundup staff reporters
Rim country residents are stocking up for Y2K, said Bashas' merchandising manager Paul Ronkainen, and on an average, doubling their normal grocery bills.
The rush began Wednesday, he said. Grocery purchases that usually total $40 to $50 are now running as high as $100. Their preferred purchase, Ronkainen said, water. Lots of water, along with other supplies.
"Just everything other than water -- tons of produce, canned foods," he said. "I am seeing a few more batteries, flashlights, and, yes, I saw quite a few candles go through yesterday."
Bashas' brought in extra water and stocked the rest of their items "pretty heavy" in anticipation of the Y2K weekend.
"The corporate office automatically sends extra items," Ronkainen said, "and all last month we had a case sale -- tuna, ramen noodles, chili, stew."
He said Bashas' didn't advertise the case sale because store officials didn't want to create a Y2K scare. People purchased the cases anyway and got case prices on the items.
Ronkainen said Bashas' will be open until 9 p.m. New Year's Eve and 7 a.m. till 11 p.m. New Year's Day. He's not anticipating any problems with the store's computers. The dates on all the computers were changed a month and a half ago and store officials added new software programs.
"We should be back in operation," Ronkainen said. "But you never know until that time comes."
So when the millennium rolls over, you may run out of water. Or party hats. Or hors d'oeuvres.
But you're not likely to run out of gasoline.
"The last couple of days have been very busy, probably by about a thousand gallons," said Mary Scott, manager of Woody's. "But we don't have any fears of running out over the weekend. We'll be watching the levels very closely, and if we start getting low, it'll take our supplier about three hours to get up here."
Kathy LaForge, who manages Express Stop, drove by a competing gas station Wednesday night and saw a fellow filling up "about a dozen gas cans." That's the closest she's come to seeing a gas-shortage panic.
"Even though I've heard a lot of people talk about it, I really haven't noticed anybody thinking they have to stock up. Right now (Thursday morning), for example, there are six cars at our pumps, and that's very typical."
If a last-minute rush does materialize, she said, there still won't be any cause for alarm.
"I call our supplier every day at six a.m., so every morning they know the condition of my tanks. They can send a truck immediately. I think the longest I've ever been without fuel is two or three hours."
The same tune is whistled over at Giant.
"I know we sold an awful lot yesterday (Thursday), and I'm sure we have a truck on the way right now to fill the tanks," reported assistant manager Mellody Griffin. "But there's no way we'll run out."
And there's even less concern at the Whiting service station. "I haven't noticed any major fluctuation (in gas sales) at all," said manager Anita Hannah. "About the only thing (Y2K) might do is delay delivery, due to some small computer glitch, just as it might slow down deliveries of produce, groceries, anything.
"Beyond that slight possibility, it will be business as usual."