The line is always long on Sundays at the Trader Joe’s on 93rd Street and Columbus, but this Sunday was special. With people nervous about the coronavirus and the potential for quarantines, the crowds reached levels that surprised even the Trader Joe’s staff. The first case of the virus in New York City was confirmed late on Sunday in Manhattan, though it wasn’t clear what neighborhood the person lives in.
Store employees said the wait time just to get inside was about 20 minutes long. Passersby exclaimed that the situation was “ridiculous” and “extraordinary” as shoppers waited in the cold for their turn.
One employee said that shoppers were buying more non-perishable items. “I was shocked to see on Saturday that there was a line outside before the store even opened, and all the pasta was gone before 12 noon.” Usually, the same stock lasts all day, he confirmed. “We are also charging for paper bags today as the plastic bag ban begins today, and we have more bags going out than when they were free.”
One other salesperson said that frozen items including vegetables and meat were flying off the shelves. Extra employees were called in to handle the demand.
Shoppers were excited to purchase ready-made meals, which could be put into a pantry. Sanjeev Shah, who was at the store with his wife said, ‘We bought more chana-masala packets than usual today because someone told us that they had run out yesterday,” he said.
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