ST. PAUL — By all accounts, toilet paper remains a hot commodity at stores as some hoard the basic necessity and others simply stock up on it in fear of running dry.
Several retailers said this week that as soon as store shelves are stocked they go empty in a matter of hours.
And the obligatory pictures of those empty store shelves and posts of people either happily scoring rolls — or sadly getting squeezed out — continue to pop up on social media feeds.
Then there are the toilet-paper tales from people that seem too good to be true.
Like the 77-year-old Eagan woman who reported last week that someone broke into her car inside an underground garage at her apartment complex and swiped her 24-pack of toilet paper. When filling out the incident report, Eagan police Officer Daniel McCarty valued the loss of the toilet paper as “priceless.”
An enterprising pizza shop owner in Virgina Beach, Va., used toilet paper to boost sales last week. Windy City Pizza topped off every large or deep dish pizza order with a roll of toilet paper.
“Pick up a 6 pack of cold beer or wine and really put this 2-ply to the test!” the pizzeria wrote in a March 26 Facebook post.
Unfortunately, price-gouging is not slowing down.
The owner of a downtown St. Paul smoke shop was busted last week for charging $79.99 for a 36-roll pack of toilet paper, according to Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, who called the act “pandemic profiteering.”
After John Stone found the store shelves bare near his South St. Paul home, he turned to eBay for toilet paper. He told KARE 11 TV that he thought he was paying $10 for a four-pack, so he spent $40 and bought four. Turns out he was charged $10 a roll.
“And to add insult to injury I looked on my PayPal account and realized I was also being charged an additional $20 for shipping,” Stone told the station.
There are some cautionary tales, as well.
Lift stations in Apple Valley, Eagan and Lakeville and elsewhere across the metro area are getting plugged up with so-called “flushable” wipes, which people apparently are using in place of toilet paper. City officials warn the wipes are not flushable and can cause big damage not only to lift stations, but also to plumbing in homes.
Heather Berens and a dozen other homeowners in the Red Pine neighborhood of Eagan found their basements flooded with raw sewage about week ago after a city lift station became backed up.
“City workers came out and told us the lift station backed up because people were flushing unflushables when they couldn’t find TP,” she said Wednesday in an email.
When the Pioneer Press asked readers Wednesday on Facebook for their toilet paper tales, they came through.
Readers said most stores are still limiting customers to one or two packages, depending on the retailer. Others said they ordered some through Amazon. Others are still waiting to find some.
“Walmart has been just putting out pallets — no sense in stocking shelves when it goes so fast,” Tonja Miller wrote on Facebook.
Another reader, Amy Jansen, said she bartered with a friend.
“Traded a dozen eggs for 3 rolls of TP and 1 roll of paper towel,” she wrote. “Both parties satisfied.”
Elizabeth O’Mara said a Girl Scout sold her six boxes of cookies and threw in a roll of TP.
Other readers have alternatives in place.
“Corn husks from tamales works pretty good,” Tito Jacques wrote.
Chantelle Kley said in an email that she has cut up flannel left over from making baby blankets and pajamas to use as reusable, washable wipes. She said she is starting to use them after going No. 1, “but if the toilet paper shortage goes on much longer, my entire family of 5 will be using the flannel wipes full-time!”
Meanwhile, Eileen Bertie said in an email that she gets the Pioneer Press delivered to her Roseville home on Sundays and Thursdays and if her family runs out “we will do as our ancestors did, make do. We will use our piled up old papers and wipe our butts.”