Seattle Times: Toilet Paper Shelves Bare, as Shoppers Worry about Washington Restrictions

At the Costco in Seattle on Sunday, shoppers waited in a long line and a whiteboard listed out-of-stock items: toilet paper, paper towels, disinfectant wipes, all Kleenex products. (Paige Cornwell / The Seattle Times)

The Seattle Times has a story about people in the state once again caught unprepared as new COVID-19 restrictions were announced yesterday. Toilet paper shelves again left bare, as grocery store shoppers worry about Washington restrictions

In announcing new statewide restrictions aimed at reducing the spike in COVID-19 cases, Gov. Jay Inslee on Sunday urged people not to hoard “supplies.”

“Buying up everything really hurts everybody,” Inslee said, “and there’s no necessity of it right now.”

But while the man didn’t specifically call out toilet paper, the toilet paper sure did call to shoppers.

At some Seattle stores on Sunday, in a throwback to earlier days of the pandemic, people were already buying up stacks of bathroom tissue, which seems to turn to spun gold when things look grim.

Costco ran out of the stuff over the weekend, and there was none to be found Sunday at the Safeway on Madison Street in Seattle, or the QFC on Rainier Avenue South.

(The Costco on Fourth Avenue was also out of paper towels, disinfectant wipes and all Kleenex products, according to a whiteboard posted outside).

There was still some left at the Safeway just down Rainier — but it was going at a steady clip. Angel Soft, Charmin. Quilted, cotton or mega. Didn’t matter.

“Is there a limit?” asked a woman named Pat.

Pat didn’t want to give her last name, which makes a certain kind of sense. Much as we talk about the stuff — how much we need for how many people and for how long — toilet paper is still a very personal thing.

“There’s only two of us,” Pat said, grabbing a package of 12 rolls of Charmin, then dropping her voice. “But my daughter goes through it quite fast.”

OK. Understood. No judgment.

“When I was growing up, my Dad, his rule was one sheet,” she continued. “We may have to go to Grandpa’s rule.”

She stopped, scanned the semi-bare shelves and grabbed another package.

“Maybe I’ll try for three,” she said. “Put them under my bed.”