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NC – OPINION – Guns, jars and sphagnum moss: The weird things you can’t find at the store and why

CITIZEN-TIMES.COM August 23, 2020 – From guns and gluten-free foods to freezers and bear-proof canisters, the COVID-19 pandemic has inspired panic buying of a wide and sometimes strange variety. Everybody knows toilet paper and paper towels went MIA early on, and reports about lumber shortages and coins surfaced in recent weeks. But as the pandemic wore on, Americans furiously upgraded their homes and gardens, started exercising more at home or outdoors and became even more obsessed with home security, causing a major spike in gun and ammunition sales, as well as in bikes, tents, gardening supplies and more.

Here’s a look at items running short that may surprise you: At Leicester Pawn & Gun, like at a lot of gun shops, the big rush came when the pandemic hit back in March and people got really concerned about protecting their homes, according to Manager Russell Whitmire.

As businesses closed and some supplies ran short — and millions of Americans lost jobs — people got nervous about a societal breakdown. “Then right after that we had the George Floyd death and the demonstrating and rioting that took place, and the ‘Defund the police’ stuff,” Whitmire said, referring to Floyd’s May 25 killing at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.

“People were wanting something for home defense.” Shotguns started flying off the shelves first, but the run quickly followed on handguns and rifles, including AR-15 semi-automatic rifles. While they’re able to get some firearms in stock, supplies are way down, as manufacturers scramble to keep up with orders.

Vendors tell Whitmire short supplies on guns may last for a few months, as manufacturers just can’t keep up with demand and some plants have been hit by COVID cases or reduced workforce rules. Guns are fairly useless without ammunition, and that’s the big sticking point now.

“It’s extremely hard to come by,” Whitmire said, adding he’s probably been able to get just one case of 9mm ammo from his regular vendor since March. “Basically, we have to get online and find it where we can. Getting it wholesale is really hard.”

The sales surge outpaced others that came after other landmark events, including Barack Obama’s election in 2008, Whitmire said.

Seeds, starts and canning jars.

Kristin Weeks, managing partner and co-owner of Asheville’s Fifth Season Gardening Co. location, said the start of the pandemic launched customers into a garden supply buying frenzy.

“If you look at the beginning of spring, food security was a real thing,” she said.  [full article]

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