D-FW buyers brace for winter storm as last February’s frost motivates them

With last year’s traumatic freeze still fresh in their minds, North Texans are preparing for this week’s expected cold snap by buying groceries, space heaters, generators and firewood.

After losing power last February and “driving from store to store on icy roads to find milk,” Yezenia Rivera of Dallas was determined to buy everything her family might need on Tuesday at A Walmart off West Ledbetter Drive and I-35. She even bought an electric hot plate that plugs into her generator.

Rivera’s cart was loaded with cereal, milk, bottled water, bread and more for her three children, ages 9 months, 14 and 15. Rivera said she spent about $200 more to prepare for the cold front.

When he heard the predictions, Cral Harris, 65, of Dallas decided to stock up on foods that don’t need to be frozen or cooked like spam and summer sausage.

Last year, “my electricity was on for an hour and off the rest of the day,” Harris said. “We lost food in the freezer. I’m making sure it doesn’t happen to me this time. And I keep my phone charged.

People are preparing for the worst even if the forecast is not as bad as last February. This week’s two-day winter storm is expected to be milder than last year, when temperatures stayed below freezing for five straight days and 246 Texans were killed.

The south Dallas Walmart started to get busier than usual Monday night and stayed busy from the time it opened at 6 a.m. Tuesday. Employees stacked shelves to meet demand.

“We’re working hard to make sure customers have the items they need to stay safe during the impending winter storm,” said Allen Guest, Walmart’s market manager. “Our associates always do their best to answer the call when our communities are impacted by extreme weather.”

Shoppers check out Walmart on Short Boulevard in Dallas on Tuesday. (Juan Figueroa / personal photographer)

Retailers are generally good at anticipating and dealing with severe storms, but that’s not what Texas experienced last year when the arctic blast blanketed the entire state and power went out. cut off in homes and businesses for days. Amazon has stopped deliveries. Walmart had to close hundreds of stores, and all major grocery chains, including Kroger, Albertsons, Tom Thumb and Target, reported temporary closures during the week of Feb. 14.

Grocery chains are scrambling to avoid disruption this week. Tom Thumb and Albertsons stores were busier than normal over the weekend, and that pace picked up on Monday and Tuesday. Although there were empty shelves, stores generally met demand after recovering from recent staffing setbacks due to the omicron variant.

Shipping schedules have been changed to ship more product Tuesday and Wednesday and to avoid shipping during predicted dangerous road conditions, said Christy Lara, spokeswoman for Albertsons and Tom Thumb in Texas.

So far, grocery chains are seeing a “significant but manageable increase in our business,” Lara said. “We expect this to continue steadily over the next few days ahead of the expected weather Wednesday night and Thursday.”

Shoppers shop as Maria Rios (left) stocks shelves at Walmart at 200 Short Blvd.  in Dallas.
Shoppers shop as Maria Rios (left) stocks shelves at Walmart at 200 Short Blvd. in Dallas. (Juan Figueroa / personal photographer)

Grocery shoppers are focusing on protein – meat, poultry, seafood and Beyond Meat – and snacks and beverages, including bottled water. It’s a typical grocery list for weather events, Lara said.

“At Central Market, we know about extreme weather events and our stores are ready to serve our customers with the products they want and need,” said Mabrie Jackson, Dallas spokesperson for HEB and Central Market. .

HEB received accolades last year for keeping the lights on with a generator system built behind almost all of its stores in the state.

“Last year was pretty awful and saw a lot of interest in backup power from homeowners and businesses alike,” said Aaron Jagdfeld, CEO of Generac Power Systems. The Wisconsin-based company makes generators that connect to natural gas power sources and kick in automatically during outages. But such systems cost around $10,000 for the average suburban home.

“Texas customers tell us they were only worried about one season, summer, but now they’re worried about two,” Jagdfeld said. Small businesses bought generators and big wireless service providers bought them for their cell towers, he said.

The memory of last February’s frost has prompted many people to be proactive and prepare for this week’s cold snap, said Steve Salazar, spokesman for home improvement chain Lowe’s.

Lowe’s stores began seeing customers prepare for winter last weekend with purchases of ice melt, rock salt, pipe wraps, faucet covers, portable heaters, firewood and generators.

Two weeks ago, Lowe’s began shipping additional supplies to area stores. The company’s Mount Vernon distribution center allows it to ship supplies quickly, Salazar said.

Rooster Home & Hardware True Value said it had restocked several times and was receiving another shipment of key items on Wednesday, including faucet covers, vent covers, heaters, plant frost covers, fire starter logs, wood logs, propane, fireplaces, weatherstripping and shovels.

LaToya Brown loads boxes of ramen noodles into her car at Walmart on Short Boulevard.  Brown said she hopes this year's frost won't be as severe as last year.
LaToya Brown loads boxes of ramen noodles into her car at Walmart on Short Boulevard. Brown said she hopes this year’s frost won’t be as severe as last year.(Juan Figueroa / personal photographer)

Rooster also sells items for pets that can’t come inside, such as bedding and Flock Fresh shavings.

Pets were on the minds of many Dallas residents.

Adline Bolden, 70, of Dallas, said she hadn’t lost potency in the past year, but was careful about the six “outdoor cats” she feeds daily.

“I bought a 60-pound bag of cat food and water,” she said, in case she got stuck at home.

Twitter: @MariaHalkias

Looking for more retail coverage? Click here to read all news and retail updates. Click here to subscribe to D-FW Retail and other newsletters from The Dallas Morning News.

About Cassondra Durden

Check Also

USGC: Indy 500 highlights role of ethanol in racing and global market

By US Grains Council | June 16, 2022 Delegations from Japan, South Korea, India and …