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We have all probably read about the individual in Tennessee who drove over a three state area to purchase all of the available stocks of hand sanitizers and wipes for resale. It turned out not so well, but I suspect he also made a profit before disgorging the remainder of his stock after being outed.

Similar stories are also coming from the Muskoka area where folks from the GTA are taking the ride up 11 to clear the shelves of grocery stores in Huntsville, Gravenhurst and Bracebridge. People will be people, I guess. The only solution is to say no. It’s not easy to say no when someone wants to check out with 50 boxes of Kraft Dinner or all of the ground beef on the shelf, but it needs to be done, not by the minimum wage clerk but by management. Or by the person next in line. It takes courage.

There will always be this type of attempt to hoard or to make a profit, but it is somewhat limited. What is more of an issue are individuals who buy more than they need – just to be safe. A recent example of this came to my attention.

A local area resident went to the grocery store to buy milk, they were looking for their usual weekly 4 litre 3-bag amount. When the first grocery store they went to had none they went to a second store and found a supply. Did they take one bag? Of course not, they decided to buy three bags, 12 litres, with the intent of freezing the two extra bags.

I understand the sentiment, but I don’t subscribe to it. We were presented with the same exact situation yesterday and bought the usual 4 litre bag. We met our needs, rather than choosing to feed our anxieties.

This hoarding type approach has two negative consequences. It denies milk to the person who needs it sooner rather than later. The less obvious consequence is that it screws up the supply chain. People who buy and freeze milk, buy 120 rolls of toilet paper, will, with time, consume these goods. How do companies plan production and inventories? At some point in the hopefully not too distant future there will be a glut of toilet paper as supply catches up with the hoarding. What then? Will production be cut back or shut down? Covid-19 does not cause the shits, so there won’t be an increase in wiping. Perhaps people are just shitting themselves with worry.

As people start to freak out, take a moment or two to think about the people in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean Islands who didn’t have power and supplies for weeks and months on end. Not only were there more deaths and disease, their infrastructure was destroyed. Or think about the people in Syria who don’t just deal with shortages but bombs raining down on their homes. We have the system and infrastructure to get through this with very little sacrifice if we don’t freak out and start hoarding. Trust the system.

Let’s be careful out there. And considerate.