Shoppers find new approaches in Colorado Springs, turn to niche markets for in-demand commodities

Shoppers across the Pikes Peak region for a couple of weeks have wandered through partially pillaged grocery stores hunting for toilet paper, ground beef and eggs as the coronavirus has fueled panic buying, leaving some to seek out niche retailers or adjust their approach to shopping.

People lined up in front of Dollar General on South 8th Street before the doors opened Monday — keeping several feet apart for safety — to find common items turned hot commodities, such as toilet paper.

Jim Coonradt, a restaurant delivery driver, was among those who arrived early to the discount store and was interested in reasonably priced Clorox wipes. While shopping on eBay, he said, he found a seller asking $20 for 33 wipes. He left the store with the wipes and two boxes of facial tissue to tide him over until the order of 30 tissue boxes that he bought online arrives.

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Coonradt said he does’t consider himself to be “the hoarding guy” but doesn’t want to search for items in empty stores later.

“You almost have to because everybody else is forcing you to do it,” he said about buying in bulk.

While Coonradt turned to eBay, others are looking to Facebook groups for help finding hot items. A woman’s request for advice on buying eggs that she posted Sunday to a Colorado Springs Facebook buy, sell and trade group generated 315 comments and links to private citizens selling eggs from their chickens.

For those hunting through brick and mortar shops, Colorado Springs shopper Jonathan Palao offered some advice: Think beyond the big brands, such as Safeway, Walmart and King Soopers.

“There are some hidden gems,” he said, of Colorado Springs’ small, independent and ethnic grocery stores.

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At the Asian Pacific Market, shoppers can find 50-pound bags of rice and at Andy’s Meat Market on East Platte Avenue, they can find a supply of sought-after ground beef, he said. Palao ended up the Asian market on East Platte Avenue Monday after he was unable to find soy sauce at other shops, he said.

Ainley Doyle-Jewell, owner of Great Harvest Bread, a bakery and cafe on Union Boulevard, said her bread sales have picked up as other stores have run low and it has helped offset the losses from her catering business. The shop has also started taking bread out to customers’ cars so they don’t have to come into the shop. A basic loaf weighing about 2 pounds at the shop is $6.95, she said.

“People are very grateful that we’re here,” she said.

Contact the writer at or (719) 636-0293.S.

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