I drove into our nearby "big city", Wichita Falls, this morning to do some shopping and fill my vehicle with gasoline. I took the opportunity to speak with folks I know there. This is what they told me.
- Sams Club has been overrun with anxious shoppers buying everything they can get their hands on. This morning, the queue of full carts and shoppers waiting to pay for their purchases stretched from the tills all the way to the back of the store. It was taking up to an hour to pay and get out. I didn't want to wait that long, so I took my shopping list elsewhere. It was all available at smaller stores, albeit at somewhat higher prices.
- My favorite gun dealer still has plenty of firearms and ammunition. Most folks in this part of the world already have theirs, so they haven't joined the panic buying of guns and ammo. However, he's furious (as am I) at the price-gouging by some dealers. A local store is asking over $40 for a twenty-round box of .223 ammunition (nothing special - Winchester white box ball). My dealer is still selling his ammo at the regular price (less than half that), because he refuses to profiteer. Good for him! However, he's been informed by NICS (which runs background checks on gun purchasers) that they can no longer give him results within three days, as is the norm. Thanks to the huge nationwide increase in gun sales, he's been told he won't get clearance on applications submitted this week until April 15th at the earliest, and he should hold the guns until then. This is not making his buyers happy, but what can he do? (That's yet another good reason to have a Texas concealed carry permit - it does away with the need for a separate background check every time you buy a gun.)
- I need to ship a package to Colorado, and inquired about it at the UPS Store. The clerk on duty informed me that for regular shipping, the delay to get it there is now ten days to two weeks, because everyone is ordering stuff online after they learn that local stores have run out. If I pay for overnight shipping, it may take two to three days; second-day-air shipping can take three to four. That's just the way it is. The courier and delivery services are absolutely swamped.
- Sadly, the lower gasoline prices being quoted in the news media haven't made their way to Wichita Falls yet. I paid over $2 per gallon to fill my vehicle, and about $3.40 per gallon for non-ethanol fuel (91 octane - all that was available) to fill two 5-gallon cans (the final two of our emergency/back-up gasoline stash). I first emptied the cans into my vehicle's tank, where the old gas would be diluted by fresh fuel from the pump. That way, even two-year-old gasoline is entirely usable. I try to rotate the gas in our stash every year to eighteen months.
At least it was a productive morning, and I was able to enjoy some fresh air. This afternoon I'm going to tackle the back yard with our new lawnmower, if it's dried out enough - about half of it is still basically swamp beneath the grass cover.