Grocery stores close early in Portsmouth

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PORTSMOUTH — They didn’t sell out of ice cream at Clements’ Marketplace before the storm. It just looked that way.

Still, the store was doing brisk business before it closed its doors in the interest of safety at 3 p.m. Friday.

“It’s been crazy, yesterday and today,” said general manager Tracy Anthony Friday afternoon. “We started picking up (business) a little bit on Wednesday as well, but then yesterday was ridiculous. It was a busy, busy day right up until the night when we closed.”

What were people buying?

“A little of everything. Obviously the regulars— the bread, the milk, snack items — those types of items. It looks like people are doing their regular grocery shopping, but maybe for two weeks at a time because they’re worried about the storm being so strong and keeping them housebound for longer than they’d like,” Ms. Anthony said.

The store decided to close its doors at 3 p.m., before the height of the storm.

“We wanted to get our staff out of here,” she said. “We had to make a decision early this morning because we needed to protect the product and get it into coolers and freezers.”

That’s why the ice cream, yogurt and some other dairy products were nowhere to be found on the aisle shelves.

“We do have it and kept it out most of the day, but we started breaking it down because those things can’t handle temperature abuse,” she said.

Pointing to a National Grid truck parked outside, she said, “If we do lose electricity, I know these guys are going to have a tough time getting up on the wires to fix things if there are gusts up to 60.”

As for Saturday, she said, “I don’t expect we’ll be open any time before early afternoon, if at all.”

The Green Grocer, further south on East Main Road, also closed early Friday. A message on its Facebook page, saying the store was closing at 2:30 p.m., included a plea to customers “to stay safe and warm.”

Customers at Ace Hardware on East Main Road were stocking up on storm essentials like snow shovels and rock salt Friday afternoon, while a worker at Moriarty’s Liquor Locker on Park Avenue was shoveling the sidewalk to make a clear path for customers. He said the store was expected to stay open until 10 p.m. Friday.

 

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.