Did You Ever Think This Would Be as Valuable as Gold?

Have you ever found you couldn’t buy something because the store was completely sold out? Of course, you have. The item you wanted to buy was popular and you waited too long.

Did that ever happen to you when the item you wanted to buy was not popular and the store always had packages and packages of it – seemingly an almost unlimited supply?

That happened to me in March of 2020 at Costco. I wanted to buy a package of toilet paper. I turned down the aisle in the back of the store where the toilet paper normally was. The area was empty.

All of the Toilet Paper was Gone

If you shop at Costco or Sam’s Club, you know they don’t carry small packages of anything. That is true of toilet paper.  The smallest packages contain 30 or 36 rolls.  They always had what seemed like an overabundant supply. Yet, all of the packages were gone at Costco.

Very shortly afterwards, all of the toilet paper at WalMart, Kroger and Food City also disappeared. There was a run on toilet paper. God forbid, if anyone waited until they were almost out of it, they would have been totally out of luck. They suddenly may have found it necessary to use something else besides toilet paper for their daily needs.

I started to wonder what was happening. Why did people suddenly decide to buy all of the toilet paper in Knoxville or, for that matter, in the United States? This run on toilet paper was brought on by the Coronavirus crisis.

If people watched the news, all they heard for days was how bad this Coronavirus was in China and other parts of the world. Now it had come to the United States starting in the states of Washington and California.

People feared it coming to Tennessee. No one knew when it would get here nor how long it would last. So, they figured they should stock up just in case they couldn’t get out and get any when they needed it.

Why Toilet Paper?

Just the name, Coronavirus, put it in the virus family. Normally viruses cause gastric problems and diarrhea.  Since this virus was worse than others, people thought they would need more toilet paper.

There was one big difference.  Coronavirus is not a normal virus.  It is primarily a respiratory problem like pneumonia, but much worse. The side effects were not gastric problems and diarrhea.

Why Did People Buy So Much?

You may want to know why people bought huge amounts of toilet paper. I know I did.

I did a Google search to see if the experts in mental health, the psychiatrists and psychologists, had any explanation of why people did this. There were many articles about how people across the country had suddenly gone out and bought toilet paper. However, there were no articles which really explained why they did it.

I came to the conclusion panic was the cause. A large number of people heard how people in the states of Washington and California were confined to their homes.  Schools and businesses were closed.

These people figured the same thing would happen in their states. They suddenly would be confined to their home. Before they were, they needed to stock pile the necessities that they would need until the crisis ended and they could get back to normal.

This is . . .

. . . Just Like When Snow is Predicted Here in East Tennessee

It seems as soon as snow is mentioned, school administrators cancel school. People fear they won’t be able to get out and will be stranded at home. So, they stop at the store and buy milk, bread and other products to tide them over until the snow melts.

There is one big difference. A snow storm lasts only a couple of hours. The snow melts quickly. The longest people are stranded typically is a day or two.  They only need supplies for a short period of time.  With the Coronavirus, they had no idea how long their confinement would last.

In the back of their minds, they figured those in their families would be going to the bathroom more frequently than normal. They had to have enough toilet paper on hand to last as long as necessary.

When other people started to see people leaving stores with carts filled with toilet paper, they figured they better get it too. They also stocked up. Some called their family members to let them know what was happening and suggested they get out and buy it while they could.

Then, there was the last group – people like me, totally oblivious to what was happening, until it was too late. We just buy toilet paper when we need it. This time, we found there was either none left or those brands no one else wanted.

Which One of These Three Groups Are You In?

  • Were you in the first group who bought toilet paper at the start?
  • Were you in the second group who saw all of those other people buying and bought the rest of the toilet paper?
  • Were you like me, one of the last ones who waited too long and really didn’t have a choice on what we got or got none?

If you are in that first or second group, you may have enough toilet paper to last you for months or years.  The Coronavirus crisis will end and you will have just put a small dent in your stockpile!!!

There May be People in East Tennessee Suffering Right Now!

You may not have thought of it, but there is a group of people right here in Knoxville and Knox County who may be suffering because of this run on toilet paper. These are older people whose only income is their monthly Social Security Benefit. The average monthly benefit in this area this year is $1,515. Many who have been receiving Social Security benefits for years are getting less than that.

Every month these people have to watch their money closely. They have to make sure they have enough to buy their food and pay all of their bills.

These people only buy enough toilet paper for what they need now.  They are not in a position to stockpile it for an extended period of time. If they were not shopping when this panic buying was going on, they may have missed out and may be almost out now.

It is these who are really suffering now. If you have more toilet paper than you need, please see if you can help them. Start right there in your neighborhood. Ask the older people who live around you if they have an adequate supply. If they don’t, share what you have with them.

If no one in your neighborhood needs any, check to see if any at your church or in the organizations you belong to are running low.

The Knoxville Knox County Community Action Committee also will accept any unopened packages of toilet paper you may care to donate. They have set up an Emergency Response Fund for donations like this and other items. You can drop these off curbside at the L T Ross Building at 2247 Western Ave in Knoxville. Prior to driving there, please call 865-546-3500 to schedule curbside pick-up.

You can also donate some of the excess you have to local food pantries.


If you have any comments on what you have read in this post, please email them to me. Also – if you have any ideas about subjects you would like to see discussed in future posts, please send me an email and let me know. My email address is bob.ooablog@gmail.com.