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From fist fights to stealing off carts, toilet paper frenzy hits Guelph (9 photos)

Lineups form long before Guelph Costco opened and 1,000 packs of toilet paper were gone in 15 minutes

“Good morning and don’t kill us.”

And with those words, manager Armando Gumbs opened the doors of the Guelph Costco at 9:30 a.m. Friday for approximately 500 customers who had been waiting in line outside.

Two employees stood at the entrance of the store wiping off the handles of every cart with a disinfectant wipe amid the fear of coronavirus. 

Gumbs said there is only one item flying off the shelves in minutes: toilet paper. 

Some were seen with one pack and some were seen with four. Some were even seen going back for more after loading up their cars. 

“I don’t understand the concept of toilet paper. I can understand hand soap, hand sanitizer, or food or whatever, but the toilet paper process?” said Gumbs. 

He said yesterday, the store had 1,000 packs of toilet paper that were wiped off the shelves in 15 minutes. 

Gumbs said the panic by the public in reaction to the media’s reports on coronavirus causes a dilemma in stores with hand sanitizer already sold out weeks ago. 

“Yesterday was really crazy. Just nuts,” said Gumbs.

He says while the customers who enter the store seem calm, they shouldn’t take anything for granted.

“In Canada, we’re very relaxed, it’s not like the states. But don’t take anything for granted because you never know what could hit you at the same time.”

Membership door greeter Michelle Malott said she sees toilet paper in almost every cart. And sometimes arguments get so heated, she experiences verbal abuse from customers.

Yesterday, a fist fight broke out over toilet paper she says. 

“Somebody took it off somebody’s cart,” said Malott. 

She said when the store sold out of toilet paper yesterday, people waited on the floor for hours for the next shipment to come. 

Mississauga resident Heebah Padilah, who stood in front of the line as the doors of the store opened said she arrived at 8:30 a.m. waiting to stock up on toilet paper. 

“We went to six places yesterday,” said Padilah, stating that it was all sold out in her home city. 

She said she believes many people fell for the misinformation about toilet paper healing coronavirus circulating on social media. 

“And those people that fell for it, started hoarding and buying toilet paper,” said Padilah.

“People like me now want to purchase toilet paper for regular use and we have no choice but to hoard.”

Several people in line came in from neighbouring cities. 

“I don’t know. It’s bizarre. You’re not eating toilet paper. Food should be your top priority,” said Brandy Nighenhuis of Arthur, who came looking for toilet paper as part of her regular grocery shopping item after it was sold out in Arthur.


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Anam Khan

About the Author: Anam Khan

Anam Khan is a journalist who covers numerous beats in Guelph and Wellington County that include politics, crime, features, environment and social justice
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