Saturday, December 19, 2009

Create your Own Emergency

Yesterday, at Lowes Home Improvement in Laurel, I was waiting to ask the greeter where to find kindling. He was trying to help a senior citizen who was looking for snow shovels. "Sorry," I overheard him tell her, "we sold out this morning. We have spades, but no snow shovels."

She seemed shocked, and murmured that this was the second store she'd visited. He apologized to her, and turned to me.

"Do you have any Fatwood? It's a type of kindling."

"Well," he said, "let's see." Perhaps to get away from the freezing wind at the front door, or maybe to stretch his legs, he offered to walk me through the fireplace section. On the way, I mentioned that it was surprising they had sold out of shovels so quickly. "If you live here, don't you already have one from the last storm?" I said as we passed the fireplace grates and pokers.

"People were buying them six at a time, just grabbing them by the armload," he answered.

So, people are either trying to make money by supplying friends and charging people to scrape the walkways of those who didn't get to buy one, or reselling them at a premium.

Entrepreneurial, or hoarding? You decide. Email us at

All quotes in this story are paraphrases.

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