Total Solar Eclipse August 21, 2017

Grocers, gas stations prepare for eclipse rush

With less than a month until hundreds of thousands of people are expected to flock to eastern Idaho for the Aug. 21 eclipse, local businesses are planning and stocking up for the rush.

The website estimates the number of visitors to the Idaho Falls area could range from a low of 57,000 to a high of 229,000. The website is run by eclipse expert Michael Zeiler, a cartographer from Santa Fe, N.M.

“Imagine the largest public gathering that ever occurred in your area, and multiply that by two? Or 10? It could be either,” Zeiler told the Post Register last year.

Zeiler created an interactive map that shows where major U.S. population centers are most likely to go to watch the eclipse, based on driving distance. Eastern Idaho could be among the busiest. Considering its proximity to Interstate 15, it’s the closest eclipse destination for 38.5 million people.

When local city and economic officials predicted during an October meeting that 40,000 to 60,000 would come to eastern Idaho, Colorado astrophysicist and eclipse expert Jeffrey Bennett surprised some by saying the area should be ready for 10 times that figure, based on previous eclipses he’s attended.

Grocery stores and gas stations in the area will work their employees into overtime, prepare for abnormal delivery schedules and stock more of everything — especially ice, water, candy, chips, sandwiches and other “grab-and-go” items.

Broulim’s in Rigby is among some stores that will extend their hours for the eclipse rush, Store Director Daryl James said. James said all check stands will be open for the eclipse rush, and employees won’t be allowed to take time off as long as they are needed.

He said the store also will receive extra deliveries starting Aug. 16, and an additional cooler and freezer will be brought in to store perishables and frozen items.

“We’re going to be fully stocked and then some,” he said.

Most stores will follow similar plans, but managers said it is difficult to predict everything that needs to be done.

Dustin Nixon, assistant store director of the Albertsons on 17th Street in Idaho Falls, said there are no guarantees everything will remain fully stocked throughout the eclipse weekend, in spite of efforts to prepare.

“No one knows what to expect,” Nixon said.

Others echoed his sentiment.

“With nothing like this ever happening before, we’re kind of shooting in the dark,” said Robby Johnson, store manager of Natural Grocers in Idaho Falls.

Johnson and other store managers encourage locals to buy groceries and supplies ahead of time and avoid shopping in the days leading up to and following the eclipse.

John Doherty, manager of KJ’s Boozers in Idaho Falls, said some vendors will not deliver the Monday of the eclipse, and vendors that do deliver could get held up by traffic.

“If it’s as bad as they say it’s going to be, buying groceries isn’t going to be much of an option,” Doherty said.

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Source: Solar Eclipse 2017

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