Best and Worst: Surprisingly Smart Pandemic Purchases and Epic Pandemic Shopping Fails

Alexa Covid Commands

Way back in January after China shut down all their manufacturing plants, I became worried about a supply chain interruption due to the coronavirus, and went shopping to prepare.

Honestly at that time I didn’t anticipate it ever making its way to the United States….I thought the virus would fizzle out and simply become a weird acronym like MERS or SARS that I didn’t ever care to know more about.

My automatic response to any anxiety I experience is to read, read, read and educate myself as much as possible about the problem. I guess that helps me feel like being armed with knowledge means I have some type of control over the situation.

Here’s what was on my coronavirus preparedness shopping radar initially:


I looked at our toilet paper package and saw that it is made in Canada, so the thought of a shortage on TP quickly fell off my radar. It’s hard to admit when I’m wrong about something, but I was definitely wrong when I didn’t think toilet paper would become a problem.


Since my kiddos are my top priority in life, I was worried that school supplies would be in short supply over the summer. So I went school supply shopping in January!

Honestly, I felt a little bit stupid shopping for next year’s school supplies this year. But I didn’t actually tell anyone that’s what I was doing except for the kids. I justified it by telling them that if there wasn’t a supply chain disruption, then we at least saved ourselves some hassle with school shopping later on.

It turns out that school supply shopping was one of the smartest preparedness decisions I made.

Nobody could have ever predicted that schools across the US would shut down. Way back in January, if people had known THAT was going to be our new reality, then all the pencils, paper and notebooks would have been wiped out long before the toilet paper went missing.

I doubt there has been a huge run on school supplies during the pandemic, but I am calling my choice a victory because I don’t have to try scrounging up new supplies for the kids during a pandemic.


I checked our prescriptions to see if any of them have ingredients that rely on China.

Oh yes. Oh wow.

We are very reliant on China for our medication needs. So then I did some digging all the way back to the 1970’s to figure out how the United States put itself in a position of relying on another country for something critical like our prescriptions.

I came across an article from November 2019 outlining the concern that China could weaponize our dependence on them for medications. It made me feel better that our government was already thinking about this problem. But it’s a bit unnerving that we’ve been relying on them for so long already.

At least now we’ve had a real wake up call as a nation in so many ways about China, so hopefully we will have strong enough leadership to make quick changes to how our critical supply chain needs operate.

Anyway, thank goodness for 90 day prescriptions!


Okay, this is the reality of how my brain works. I bought eyeballs, thinking that they would be hard to find later this year. Eye balls just HAVE to be made in China, right?

Why are eyeballs important? Because when you have kids, you’ve got to make crafts and usually those crafts involve some type of replica of a living creature.

Living creatures like unicorns. And unicorns need fun eyeballs.

We typically stay pretty stocked up on most basic crafting supplies, but somehow our eyeballs always come up missing around here. I don’t want to have a tragic eyeball situation, so I got some. And yesterday we made elephants out of empty milk jugs. Elephants need eyeballs.

And guess what?

I can’t find the eyeballs now.


Back in a former life, I was responsible for creating the emergency plans for our agency offices in 14 counties. And as a result, I got a lot of pandemic bird flu training.

You’d think I would have shopped for items that made more sense than eyeballs.

But then at the end of February, the CDC announced that we should prepare for our lives to be majorly disrupted. So I knew that was our first clue that this virus was a more serious matter than we ever could have imagined.


We had a handful of face masks in our garage, but nothing special. I didn’t realize any differences in face mask quality at the time, so I didn’t run out and buy any. Nor did I buy gloves.

I should have bought gloves! Ugh, major pandemic fail.

I did buy two large bottles of dish soap. No hand sanitizer though. Because soap works better than sanitizer. Except I wasn’t thinking we’d be leaving the house going into public shopping during our major life disruption phase, so I just didn’t think hand sanitizer was necessary.

Thankfully my son is a germ-o-phobe, so he donated his hand sanitizer stash to keep in the vehicle.

So it was the CDC’s announcement that made me I stop worrying about the supply chain problem and get focused on pandemic food shopping. At that time, there were zero shortages in the grocery store.

So I did what any reasonable Texan would do… stocked up on taco seasoning. Because tacos make a major life disruption a little more tolerable.

Here in Texas we have well stocked deep freezers. Maybe because those briskets are so big and we always need to have some spare ones on hand? So we were already stocked with plenty of food anyway.

But I did start freezing milk and bread…those items were still very plentiful back in those days.

Now that we’re fully involved in the reality of having our lives disrupted, it’s not as bad as I imagined. We have access to the grocery stores, although it’s hard to find everything you need at one store. But I’m not happy about entering a grocery store right now.

I haven’t figured out if not thinking about toilet paper is a fail or win. I don’t want to go into a store to get TP. I’m waiting for the stores to allow online toilet paper ordering.

So here we are in April and STILL haven’t had a real need to buy any toilet paper.


  • Deloyce Barrington
    April 7, 2020 - 10:04 pm

    Fun read, Sharon. You keep me entertained. Gotta have eyeballs when ya got kids to entertain. We bought TP online at HEB with a two week delay… should be good until April 14 tho. Take care and stay healthy.

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