What's in the back of your grocery store?

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While waiting to use the can in the grocery store yesterday, I happened to look in the back, trying to kill time while my eyes were turning yellow. I noticed something that suddently made the value of stocking up click in my mind: grocery stores are no more than fancy truck tailgates - there's no storage in the back for more than a few cases of food. I've been to the local Associated Grocer's warehouse, and while it's big, there's probably no more than a few days' food for its entire grocery store clientele either. I've seen this before, but there was never anything to make me put two and two together and come up with some semblance of four.

Here in the Seattle Metro area, what used to be local truck farms are buried under parking lots in new industrial parks and malls. This area is no longer food self-sufficient...actually hasn't been for years. I suspect that most metropolitan areas are the same.

Anyone taken an in-depth look specifically at the food distribution system to see how Y2K compliant it is?

-- Karen Cook (browsercat@hotmail.com), October 23, 1998


Yep, you are correct. This is yet another example of 'Just In Time' (JIT) inventory and while it makes perfect economic sense when delivery is dependable and assured, it ensures shortages when deliveries are not dependable.

If you go the store once or twice a week, your home is also operating on 'Just In Time' inventory.

Some backing away from JIT over the next few months for some business may be possible but a great many business simply do not have the warehousing capacity. There are also issues of spoilage. And cash reserves.

Still, this is one part of contingency planning that offers real solutions for many, including most of us individually. Buy a little extra each week.


-- Arnie Rimmer (arnie_rimmer@usa.net), October 23, 1998.

Now you know why the stores like to use the bar code scanners for check-out. It's not that it registers the price, it also updates an order processing system.

Folks working at regional grocery warehouses tell of getting 'order sheets' and then building the orders, store by store.

Achieving a minimum 30 day food supply in the home should be our goal - Y2k, or not.

-- j (yoda@yoyodyne.net), October 23, 1998.

While I have been accused of being a 'Pollyanna' I have never said we should not keep supplies of necessities on hand. My wife would go nuts without her pantry. Thirty days is probably enough - just don't forget powdered milk and some bottled water.

-- Paul Davis (davisp1953@yahoo.com), October 23, 1998.

It takes about 3 days for the typical grocery store to turn over its inventory under normal circumstances.

-- Buddy Y. (DC) (buddy@bellatlantic.net), October 23, 1998.

I used to live in DeKalb,IL, and there was a 1 million sq ft Nestle distribution center there. A worker there said it "turned" inventory every 10 days. So much for back up supplies!

-- Bill (bill@microsoft.com), October 23, 1998.

I would say it is another marker of rural living. My house is always chock full of groceries, and the once or twice week run to the store is just for milk (and the donoughts that leap off the shelf into the cart committing Donoughtacide). My grandmother also has enough food in her pantry to feed a small army. I think it comes from several times a year we get literally frozen into our property (is quite aways to the main road), so we always have lots of food on hand (also water, but is rare we have to use it and we do rotate it).

I think that was one of the intial hurdles of Y2K I had to get over was realizing that not everyone had this much food on hand in their house.


-- Rick Tansun (ricktansun@hotmail.com), October 24, 1998.

I have a neighbor who is the manager of a local grocery store (national chain store). In talking to her of the Y2K she said she was familiar, and stated that the information she has been given is that her company is now nearly totally finished with their remediation program. She wasn't sure whether this included testing.

Since that initial conversation (2 months ago) she has been noticeably silent on the subject. Hiding something? In denial? Or is she also scared? BTW, she had no idea what I was talking about when I pressed the issue about the interdependance of her store with a long list of suppliers, who just may not be Y2K compliant.

-- JoeB (jbabinsky@theriver.com), October 24, 1998.

I have worked in a major chain of grocery stores for 25 yrs. Today I talked to someone in the regional "office"warehouse downtown to feel them out about thoughts of what would first happen? They said she hasn't heard anything of what work is going on to fix it, but she knows her programs are not going to react right because of the date issue. She makes some of the suppiers payments to different companies. She hasn't heard of our supply companies being ready. Our general business is rising every week, is it just that time of year or is a storing up on food increase? To soon to tell. My store is in the city. A 55,000 sq ft with pharmacy. Our patient insurance info is all by networking. The director of pharmaist said their software was "updated" and their ISP was working on their problem. But if the grid is gone our backup generator is gas but only runs emerency lights and registers and doesn't all natural gas somewhere have a chip down the line? I an watching the out of stocks list on the groc trucks to see an increase in them. Now is around 2-5% I'll let ya know more later as I find out.

-- Elaine Hammons (elaine_h@bellsouth.net), December 02, 1998.

Listen Karen, Eat shit, you suck. You're so smart you just realized that grocery stores don't have a million pounds of food in the back? Come on, get a brain, hoe. Don't go blaming everything on Y2K when it comes and don't ever write another one of these fucking stupid letters that make you feel so goddam smart.

-- Shay-Long Bong (PowRNig@Hotmail.com), May 26, 1999.

hey karen,

i bet you've already started packing, ... fudge you stupid lesbian bitch!

-- Flamer Mach (BigKev@Hotmail.com), May 26, 1999.

Many grocery stores in our region have abandoned older shopping malls to build large freestanding grocery marts, usually just across the street. Since grocery store type real estate is difficult to lease, these older stores frequently remain unoccupied.

Look for grocery chains along about late summer start the fixup to reoccupy these stores as extra storage facilities. Though some are still equipped for refigeration, if they are utilized they will be stocked, floor to ceiling most likely, with non-perishable items.

Sources indicate that this is part of their contigency plans that will be engaged only as a latter resort. So watch for activity at these locations later this summer. It may be a bellweather of the chain's concern over trucking issues, or it just may be a prudent measure under the circumstances.

-- Don't Know Joe (JoeSeeky@aol.com), May 26, 1999.

Good thinking, Joe.

-- thankgoodness (Adecentposter@last.com), May 26, 1999.

Thank you, thankgoodness!

-- Don't Know Joe (JoeSeeky@aol.com), May 26, 1999.

Oh my, school is out somewhere already! Guess it's time to get ready for the little rug (b)rats.

-- Dian (bdp@accessunited.com), May 26, 1999.

Hi, and he is right. I shop at a discount store here and I've noticed that normally there is NO aisle space, very crowded conditions, but hey the prices are worth the effort of getting thru tiny spaces. But, a few days ago, I went into the store and it looked EMPTY.....space everywhere....Complete renovation, and more space to stock more. Also at a most of Topps (old Finast grocery store, new name) they have rearranged all their aisles. When my mom in law asked why they told her so the cashiers could see if anyone is shoplifting. Quite the contrary, their is more room for LONG lines as I see it. Same with the other store....good point, and I'm not paranoid, I've just been wondering why now? Stores have been crowded aisle wise forever, not anymore.......

-- consumer (private@aol.com), May 28, 1999.


the situation here in DC is exactly the same as yours, nor are there any indications of any additional storage capacity being readied, in fact several local grocery stores have been taken out of commission by their respective corporations, in order to do major renovation which isn't scheduled for completion until sometime in 2000...

this place is NOT going to be fun, when the rollover gets here.


-- Arlin H. Adams (ahadams@ix.netcom.com), May 28, 1999.

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