- The Washington Times - Friday, February 10, 2006

Milk, bread, eggs and … beer?

The slightest threat of snow is usually enough to empty the milk, bread and egg shelves of local grocery stores. But talk of snow can make a dent in the alcohol and snack aisles, too.

Milk and bread are staples, but alcohol and snacks are fun, especially when stuck inside for a few days with grocery stores a snowy, slick, cold car ride away.

The National Weather Service predicts three to seven inches of snow will fall today in the region, meaning the D.C. area is racing to snap up the essentials.

Heather Schaefer, of Arlington, had the impending snow in mind while shopping yesterday at Harris Teeter in Arlington for a dinner party this weekend. She stocked up on eggs, fish, cheese and beer.

“The beer is partly because we’re having company, but it’s good to have on hand if there’s snow,” said Ms. Schaefer, 30.

The shop was stocked with milk, eggs and beer, but the bread aisle was beginning to thin out.

Dave Cartwright, 36, said the weekend snow prediction wasn’t enough to make him think about stocking up, but he has bought beer before a snowstorm before.

“If you’re going to be socked in for a few days, you might as well have a few beers, a few movies,” he said outside the Harris Teeter yesterday.

Business jumps about 25 percent at Cairo Wine & Liquor Store on 17th Street Northwest with news of snow, co-owner Joe Golfer said.

“Whenever there is a snowstorm, it’s almost like New Year’s Eve for us,” Mr. Golfer said. “We look forward to [the snow], especially when it’s on the weekend.”

Customers stock up on everything — wine, beer and liquor — about equally, Mr. Golfer said.

“It’s bread, milk, toilet paper and liquor,” he said.

Leonore Moog, wine manager at Burka’s Wine & Liquor Store on Wisconsin Avenue Northwest, also said she sees more people buying wine and liquor when there is impending snow.

“I just had a customer come in and say, ‘It’s going to snow, I need wine,’ ” she said. “If they think they’re going to be stranded and don’t want to go out because of the weather, they do [buy more].”

Safeway recorded milk, bread and eggs were the top sellers in its grocery stores yesterday through the afternoon. Other top products were a mixed bag: snacks such as peanut M&M;’s, juice and soft drinks, as well as staples such as canned tuna and bananas, according to spokesman Craig Muckle.

From there, some top items varied based on store demographics. In the city, baby formula and bacon were high on the list. In Charles and Calvert counties, scrapple breakfast meat was a big seller.

“Anytime you’re looking at being inside for a while, you stock up on things you enjoy, and certainly beer is one of them,” said Ray Daniels, director of craft beer marketing at the Brewers Association, a Boulder, Colo., trade group.

While the organization does not track sales figures, Mr. Daniels says anecdotal evidence suggests beer is on the grocery list before a snowstorm.

Grocery stores such as Safeway and Giant Food stock up on staples with any hint of bad weather.

“When we know snow is coming, the stores typically order more in preparation,” Mr. Muckle said. “They know they’ll go through it very quickly.”

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