Photo: Shoppers look over the H-E-B meat counter Tuesday afternoon. The spread of the novel coronavirus has led to a run on local stores.

Dave Rogers

For The Record

So what’s the deal behind the run on toilet paper?

Danny Brack, co-owner of two supermarkets in Orange County, says he has no idea.

“I don’t understand it. I really don’t,” he said.

But he did say that because of the extra demand that has accompanied the fear of the novel coronavirus he has added a second supplier to keep up the stock at Danny’s Super Foods in West Orange and K-Dan’s in Orangefield.

“We do have bathroom tissue in the stores,” he said.

That was at 11 a.m. Tuesday morning.

“Stuff is flying off the shelves,” Brack said. “But we’re restocking on a daily basis, getting trucks every day. We had to go to an outside source for bread and toilet tissue, but we did.”

The hoarding of food and supplies in this time of uncertainty as people are told to stay home from work and school has been a short-term boost to sellers.

“Our wholesaler was up like 276 percent on their deliveries last Friday,” Brack said, “so consequently, they had every truck they own running up and down the roads. But as long as there’s product in Texas, we’re going to have some.”

Experts around the world have checked in on the reason store owners can’t keep toilet paper on their shelves.

Many agree it’s because of “panic buying” which is different from “disaster buying” that occurs when a disaster like a hurricane is imminent. Then, people have a general idea how long they will be isolated and what will be needed.

Panic buying happens when people don’t know what they’re in for, the experts say.

One suggested it was because toilet paper has a long shelf-life, is packaged in a large bundle and it is prominently displayed on store aisles.

“We are drawn to it,” the professor said. “The bigger it is, the more important we think it is.”

One recent story reported an armed gang stole 6,000 rolls of TP from a Hong Kong store. An Australian newspaper printed eight blank pages people could use as a replacement in an emergency.

A mid-afternoon trip to H-E-B on 16th Street Tuesday revealed two bottles of water remaining on the shelves, zero toilet paper and paper towels and a few shelves more than half-full.

While a store insider says it is not true that H-E-B is frantically hiring people to restock shelves, many of the employees of the 16th Street store were busy bringing carts of goods from the back of the store and trying to stay ahead of the people buying the items.

The same was true at Brack’s stores in West Orange and Orangefield.

“Our employees are working at about 130 to 140 percent to see that we do have product,” Brack said. “We’ve been here since 1974 serving Orange County. We’ve seen a lot of big guys come and go, but we’re still here because of our concern for the county, our valued customers.”