You’ve tried every grocery store in town and nobody has much in the way of food. You also can’t find batteries of any size or nitrile gloves. This is the reality as coronavirus (COVID-19) reaches across America and people begin to shelter in place. Necessary supplies to fight off the coronavirus spread are at a minimum. So, now what? Do you sit around hoping a delivery truck arrives to one of your usual stops and that you’re lucky enough to get there in time? Maybe try bribing a manager to set something aside for you when they get more stock in? Or, do you start thinking outside the box?
1. Office Supply Stores
Even I was surprised the first time I visited a true office supply store, though. They carry far more than writing utensils and printer ink cartridges. Hand sanitizer – from pocket size to bathroom dispensers; or, just make your DIY hand sanitizer if possible. Coffee – K-cups, filters, even machines. Snack food – sweet, crunchy, all sorts of goodies. Bottled water – small or large bottles. Cleaning supplies – think janitorial, as well as basic paper towels and such.
2. Hardware Stores
Now granted, a lot of the standard hardware-type products are, in and of themselves, handy to have for making quick repairs and such when you can’t call on someone to do it for you. But, we’re looking outside the box. Toilet paper – this one surprised me, too, but many chain stores do carry it. Bottled water – seems like you can find this almost anywhere you shop these days. Cleaning products – all manner of disinfectants and other related chemicals. Cleaning implements – sponges, scrub brushes, mops, and more. Personal protective equipment – safety goggles, gloves, masks. Batteries – common sizes, as well as obscure, depending on the store.
3. Auto Parts Stores
For some, these places are as familiar as their own living room and they love to chat with the employees about engine esoterica. For others, it is aisle after aisle of mysterious implements and intriguing gadgetry. But, hidden among those racks of well-thumbed parts guides and jugs of window wash are a few things that are likely of interest to the pandemic prepper. Protective gear – nitrile gloves are usually well-stocked, along with eye protection. Shop rags – these work well for many cleaning chores. Paper towel – not ideal by any means, but if you’re unable to find toilet paper anywhere. Cleaning chemicals – basic stuff like glass cleaner, but still useful.
4. Farm Supply Stores
You aren’t likely to find these in hardcore urban areas, but they are growing popular in the suburbs. Many of them seem to cater to both the actual farmers and homesteaders, as well as those who hope to join those ranks someday. On one hand, you’ll find virtually everything you’ll need to plant a garden, raise chickens, and fix a tractor. On the other, you’ve never seen so many different home décor products featuring cows in your entire life. Pet food – they have a good variety and sometimes in larger bags than you’ll find elsewhere. Vet medications – do your own homework, but they do usually carry things like fish mox. Garden supplies – come spring, seeds, soil, and such may be available. Canning jars and lids – depending on the store and the time of year, these may be on the shelf.