With production issues in the food supply chain, at least one county marketplace will close due to inventory issues.
Gillilands Market in downtown New Wilmington had been operating on a reduced hours schedule, but now will temporarily close Friday because of low inventory.
"I have 7 or 8 steaks left, one roast, and some ground chuck and that's about it," owner Jamie Anglin said Wednesday. "We're going to take a break for a while until we get some product in June."
Anglin, who has owned the market since 2014, employees six workers, five of which are full-time. He said the only reason he's been able to stay open for as long as he has during the COVID-19 pandemic is because he ordered meat far in advance.
"I stocked up. I was ahead of the game," Anglin said. "By Friday, I won't have anything in the meat case or cooler."
Anglin said he has four or five different suppliers of meat products. However, due to processing plants closing or reducing workers, supply is down.
"The problem is no one has it," Anglin said. "Most of them aren't answering their phones. They're emailing you telling you there's none out there."
For now, Anglin said it's a wait-and-see approach based off if there is enough supply to reopen. Until then, the store will probably be closed until June 1.
"We're just going to play the game here now," Anglin said. "I'll be in touch with my guys every week. If we can't get enough product to reopen, then it's not really worth it. I'm just waiting for the storm to ride out."
At Joseph's Market, just across north of New Castle in Neshannock Township, keeping inventory hasn't been a major problem during the pandemic.
However, this week beef has been harder to keep in stock.
"This week, yes," owner Bill Presnar said. "Beef has tightened up a little bit. We've been able to get it. We have enough inventory right now. There's definitely a shrinking of availability."
Tenderloin and certain cuts are scarce right now, Presnar said. Pork and lamb aren't at full inventory either.
"Here and there, you have a shortage," Presnar said. "For the most part, we've been OK."
Some grocery items, he said, have been hit-and-miss in keeping in stock, but he said that has more to do with the fact his store is small and does business with a smaller wholesaler.
The market, with roots in New Castle dating back to 1915, hasn't had to put any ordering restrictions for customers on any items except lamb.
"The only thing we're doing this week is legs of lamb. We're limiting orders to one leg," Presnar said. "We ask that people be considerate and not hoard."
Presnar said the shortages stores are facing isn't because there is smaller supply, it's because there are fewer people working in the processing plants.
"The truth of it is it's not a supply issue," Presnar said. "It's production. It's the processing plants. They're temporarily shuttered or reduced staff for COVID for more spacing."
Milk and eggs, Presnar added, have been solid and are in stock.
"The main thing right now is the beef and the prices that go along with it," Presnar said.
According to Loccisano's Golden Dawn manager Jess Greco, the store's challenges stem from lack of order fulfillment rather than customers buying in bulk.
"Whatever we order and whatever they have available, you know, they send it to us," said Greco, whose father owns the family-owned grocery store in Ellwood City. "We may order it, it may not come in, but they’re doing the best they can to help keep up with everything with whatever they have available to us.”
Although the store gets deliveries three times a week from their warehouses and multiple independent food distributors, there are some products it can't seem to get enough of like cleaning products, paper goods, flour and yeast.
"As soon as it gets on the shelves, it's gone," Greco said.
Meat, Greco said, has also been in high demand recently.
Greco noted when he orders products such as five cases of toilet paper, the warehouse may only deliver three to make sure there is enough for other stores who rely on them to supply products as well.
Loccisano's customers, though, have become mindful of other's needs.
"Recently, I haven't really noticed hoarding like as much as when it all first began, so people are being very generous now," Greco said about customers no longer being "greedy."
Currently, Loccisano's does not have a limit on how many hot-ticket items can be purchased by a single buyer.
Loccisano's has been in business for 103 years.