As Snow Approaches, A Sense Of Dread

supermarket 3Chelsia Rose Marcius Shoppers at Fine Fare Super Market, on the corner of Fourth Street and Avenue C in the East Village, stock up before inclement weather. Snowstorms have delayed deliveries, meaning bursts of long lines in an overall slow business season.
supermarket 1

When you visit a local supermarket right before a blizzard, it can sometimes feel as if Armageddon is just ahead, not a snowstorm. Some shoppers roam the aisle in an apparent frenzy, seemingly ready to grab everything they can get their hands on as checkout lines snake through aisles. Patience can be thin and the urge to stockpile food can trump the inclination toward civility.

And that frantic edge can remain even after a heavy snowfall as shoppers rush to replenish depleted pantries with the threat of additional snow looming. At least that was how it seemed at the Fine Fare Supermarket on Avenue C and East Fourth Street on Wednesday.

Customers may not have had an easy time crossing slushy streets, tip-toeing on icy sidewalks and climbing over marble-colored snow mounds to get to the market. When they did make it inside, though, they appeared ready to make up for lost time, quickly buying out the stock of staples.

“We had no bread, no milk, no eggs, no nothing,” said one cashier, Yesenia Urgiles.

Florita Sanchez, 58, of the East Village, bemoaned the long lines as she shopped, but said she had no choice but to make the trek, before and after the storms.

“People like to buy before the snowstorm because they need to be prepared with food at home in case they cannot go outside,” she said.

The many snowstorms that have descended upon the neighborhood over the last two weeks have had the added effect of putting delivery trucks behind schedule — meaning the barren, or close-to-barren, shelves remain empty for longer than usual.

Amir Capers, a sales rep from Nabisco, said that he typically visits seven to 10 East Village stores in one day, including the Avenue C Fine Fare. He leaves his house in Parlin, N.J. at 5 a.m. Normally, the commute to the East Village takes 45 minutes but recently it has doubled in bad weather.

“My day, which is a normal eight hours, can turn into easily a 10 or 11 hour day,” he said. “It takes me at least three hours just to park.”

Store workers on Wednesday cheered up with talk of spring. But even if store manager Comrado Tavarez could abolish the actual storms, he’d still welcome the forecasts that predict them.

“There’s a big difference between a good day and a day like today,” Mr. Tavarez said. “We do good in the wintertime, on the day before the snow.”