Unloading boxes at the Angoon seaplane float in February. Between a breakdown in ferry service and the emergence of COVID-19, the town’s store has struggled to stock goods all winter. (Ari Snider/KCAW)

As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads, the effects of panic shopping in urban centers have rippled through grocery store supply chains, temporarily limiting the quantity of certain goods that can reach remote Alaska towns like Angoon. 

Angoon Trading Company owner Shane Thompson says the wholesalers he works with in the Lower 48 have added some restrictions as they hustle to meet demand elsewhere. 

“Because of the panic buying in the cities and the rationing from our grocery suppliers down south, we’re running low on rice and toilet paper, for starters,” he said.   

To be clear, the US is not running out of rice, or toilet paper for that matter. But concerns over the pandemic have led people around the country to stock up on essential goods, overwhelming local supply chains.

Thompson has tried to stock goods from Costco in Juneau, but that store has also been temporarily running out of high-demand items. 

The pandemic-related restrictions are hitting Angoon just as the town is emerging from a winter with almost no ferry service. That situation had led to serious food shortages in Angoon and other small Southeast towns. 

Thompson expects the current issue to be resolved soon —  he has made arrangements to make sure the store is fully stocked by the end of the month. 

“We’ll have it solved by then,” he said. “But it’s just yet another stumbling block we’ve had to go through. This winter has not been kind.”    

In the meantime, Thompson says the store is also taking precautions against the spread of the virus, like accepting grocery orders online or over the phone to limit in-person shopping.