The toilet paper aisle at a Fred Meyer store in Happy Valley was bare on Saturday, the day after Gov. Kate Brown announced new restrictions to curb rising coronavirus cases that include capacity limits in grocery stores.

The announcement of the two-week freeze caused some to suffer flashbacks to the panic-buying that caused shortages when “stay home” orders were issues at the pandemic’s outset last March.

In Portland, supply seems to be hit and miss. Employees at the Costco near the Portland airport told customers early Sunday morning that they sold out of toilet paper.

Across the Willamette River, the New Seasons Market in Raleigh Hills has toilet paper for sale and Alan Downhour of the Green Zebra Grocery in North Portland’s Kenton neighborhood said his store is still well stocked.

“I think we’re good for now, fingers crossed,” Downhour said Sunday. His advice: Order online, use curbside pick up “and stay safe.”

As in the spring when states announced lockdowns, experts advise people not to hoard.

Toilet paper flows from paper mills to retail stores through a tight, efficient supply chain. Toilet paper is bulky and not very profitable, so retailers don’t keep a lot of inventory on hand; they just get frequent shipments and restock their shelves, according to research by The Associated Press.

As other governors clamp down on activities to reduce the increase in COVID-19 cases, talk of stockpiling before Thanksgiving has spread out across the land.

Humorist Merrill Markoe posted on Twitter Saturday: “When I was a young girl, there was a toilet paper shortage, where everyone ran to stores like Costco and bought up as many of the 60 roll packs as they could. I’m getting to an age where I have trouble remembering the exact year. Not totally sure but I think it was 2020.”

The Newport Police Department responded with a brief history lesson in March when it begged residents on Facebook not to call 911 if they ran out of toilet paper. “You will survive without our help,” the post said.

The statement included alternatives to “ultra plush two-ply citrus scented tissue,” including old rope and sea sponges.

— Janet Eastman

(c)2020 The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.)

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