Grocery and hardware stores swamped before cold weather - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Grocery and hardware stores swamped before cold weather

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Grocery and hardware stores were flooded with customers Saturday, as many people were out buying last-minute supplies before the thermometer plummeted.

At Theisen's Home, Farm and Auto in Dubuque, Gina Siegert was shopping for food.

"I'm at Theisen's stocking up for our horses because they're going to be in the barn for three days, starting Sunday, which means we have to get extra feed and shavings for the stalls," she said.

Siegert had bought human food earlier in the day, too.

"Hy-Vee was packed!" she said. "And that's it. The games are on tomorrow, so we're going to watch football and I'm not going anywhere."

Siegert joined the hundreds of people at Theisen's Saturday afternoon shopping for last-minute items.

Jessica Schmitt and her family were out shopping for warm winter apparel.

"We're just looking for some hats and maybe some gloves and mittens for them," she said, standing next to a cart carrying her two young girls. "You can never have too many with little kids because they're constantly misplacing them."

Jim Gabel is one of Theisen's managers and said Saturday was, indeed, a particularly busy one.

"We've been selling a lot of windshield wash. People are coming in looking for gas line antifreeze, which we are currently out of," he said. "People have been coming in, looking for hats, gloves, mittens, ski masks, full masks, things like that. Long underwear has been popular."

Hand and foot warming packs have also been hot items, along with car batteries. The auto shop at Theisen's has seen plenty of winter tire changes as well.

However, many shoppers did at least some planning months ago. Gabel said the store has sold less salt this time around, as some people stocked up during previous bouts of bad winter weather.

Dubuque's Eagle Country Market, on the other hand, has sold plenty of sidewalk salt this weekend.

By Saturday evening, the number of shoppers at that grocery store had dropped from the early afternoon rush, but employees said they'd seen a lot of the same items at the checkout aisles throughout the day.

"Obviously, it's going to be the staples," Eagle Country Market employee Paula-Ann Stanish said. "Lots of milk and eggs and bread. Then you have your snacks. You have your pizzas. You have your potato chips."

She said a lot of customers were also purchasing "essentials, which would be, like, your toilet paper and paper towels."

Of course, store managers hope a busy Saturday doesn't lead into an empty Sunday, as potential customers hole up against the cold.

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