I visited COSTCO store in Woodinville, Washington Saturday morning, right at the store’s opening time. I had my doubts about the reality of the shortages, and needed to shop, anyway, so I thought I’d check it out for myself. They had eight big warehouse guys escorting two pallets of rice out to the showroom floor just about the time I arrived. Six of the eight then stayed with the rice, handing it out to customers as needed. Both pallets were completely sold out by the time I left the store about 45 minutes later.
I talked with two of the warehouse guys independent of each other, playing dumb and asking what was going on. Both said they were receiving normal shipments, just as they always had, but that customers were spooked and buying a lot more than normal. Both told me they expected their next rice shipment on Tuesday. One of them also told me (then showed me) that they were completely out of “general purpose” flour, and only had specialized bread-making flour in stock. Both swore up and down (and I have no reason to think they were being less than honest) that there were no shortages, just a run on things that they blamed on the media. There was enough cooking oil to fill a swimming pool, no shortages there. – Jeff F.