Many in area stocking up for Y2K

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 30, 1999

It’s not too late to stock up for Y2K. At the Exxon service station on Homochitto Street, a &uot;Y2K survival package&uot; offers you chips and salsa, bottled water and a can of soda, just the items to get you through the weekend if anything happens.

Exxon Manager James Franks said he put the homemade survival kit together because he was surprised none of his vendors had a pre-packaged kit.

So far, customers at the station have been stocking up on gasoline, and Franks said he expected things &uot;to start picking up&uot; Thursday night.

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At Wal-Mart Thursday afternoon, shelves of bottled water were empty, but workers were refilling them with boxes of gallon bottles of water.

Frank Sullivan put an entire case of bottled water into his cart.

&uot;It’s a possibility,&uot; he said of the Y2K fears that have spurred many in the Miss-Lou to stock up on water and canned goods. &uot;Time will tell.&uot;

Wal-Mart Manager C.W. Wilson said store workers have noticed an increase in sales of bottled water – &uot;more significantly this week,&uot; he said.

At the end of several aisles at the store, specials are offered on canned fruit, beef stew and potted meat.

&uot;We just tried to anticipate customer demand,&uot; Wilson said. &uot;Wal-Mart did not anticipate any problems&uot; related to Y2K.

But not everyone is worried enough to stock up for the new millennium.

At Natchez Market, owner Barry Loy said store workers haven’t seen the demand they expected for bottled water.

&uot;It’s probably picking up a little bit today,&uot; said Loy, who doesn’t expect anything to happen tonight.

Spokesmen at food stores across Mississippi volunteered similar observations.

”I think some of our customers have been preparing all along, buying a few gallons of water each week and storing it,” said Carla Bowman of City Grocery in Pelahatchie. ”We’ve been a little busy, but we really haven’t noticed anything unusual.”

”Probably the biggest movement we’ve got going is the bottled water,” said Mike Fuller, an assistant manager at a Kroger supermarket in Brandon. ”We’ve had no problem keeping up with demand.”

While there have been assurances from food, fuel and power providers that computer problems associated with the rollover to 2000 have been corrected, most businesses will be staffed at midnight Friday and into the early hours of Jan. 1.

The concern is that older computer equipment could malfunction when the calendar hits 2000 because they were originally programmed to interpret the ”00” in the date as 1900.

”We will have representatives of many of the departments within our organization available on New Year’s Eve in the event anything happens at midnight or after midnight,” said John Bogdanovich, senior marketing vice president for Jitney Jungle, a Mississippi-based supermarket chain with more than 191 stores and 55 gasoline stations in six states.

Bogdanovich said store managers were reporting increased demand for water, batteries and canned goods, ”but the demand is nothing like it would be relative to something like a big sale.”

He agreed that, because of the advanced publicity about Y2K, many shoppers had already completed stocking up on supplies.

At the Sunflower supermarket in Columbus, spokeswoman Judy Littlefield said employees had expected increased activity toward the week’s end but ”thus far it’s nothing like we anticipated. If this was a snow storm, then we’d really be seeing a run.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.