HAMPTON ROADS, Va. — Shopping during the pandemic can be frustrating, especially when you’re trying to buy the same essential items as everyone else.
Toilet paper, paper towels, disinfectants and meat are just some of the in-demand items that can take several trips to the store to find. The more trips it takes, the more people shoppers are putting themselves in contact with, which increases the risk of catching or transmitting coronavirus.
A Hampton Roads mother who was fed up with the challenges of finding food started the Grocery Stores Hampton Roads Facebook group in the early days of “panic-purchasing.”
Darci Berkovich says the idea came to her when she couldn’t find chicken at the grocery store to feed her family.
The group has gained more than 20,000 members across Hampton Roads since March 19, and it’s still growing.
Members post pictures and locations of hot-ticket items so others don’t have to search for the same products. Posters will share a picture of a pallet of toilet tissues along with the name, city and location of the store where it is stocked.
"They've been so amazing at updating. If somebody goes there and they only have two left, they'll post it on that post so that people know if it's worthwhile for them to make the drive," says Berkovich.
All the posts are time-stamped so people can determine if they should stop by.
Group members can also post about the items they are in search of and other members can respond.
"Somebody was looking for tapioca pudding for Easter, Explained Berkovich." She's like, I know this isn't, you know, an essential item. But if anybody sees it, please let me know. Well, The next day, somebody was like 'somebody was looking for this tapioca pudding.'"
All posts are removed after a few hours or if people report that the supply is gone.
They even have goodie basket giveaways filled with essentials and free to lucky winners weekly.
"In the end, it brings so much joy and we need this right now. You know, we need each others support while we're going through this," says Berkovich.