Across the world stores are facing shortage of toilet paper as panic over the COVID-19 outbreak increases.
In Sylvan Lake, store shelves are emptied as soon as a shipment of the bathroom product is put out.
Mike Williams, owner of Western Business Solutions in Sylvan Lake, saw the opportunity to help his community, with of all things, toilet paper.
The local business owner had roughly 1,000 rolls of toilet paper normally sold to corporate partners on hand.
In a spur of the moment decision Wednesday afternoon, Williams decided he could help the community in Sylvan Lake in two ways, by accepting donations to Community Partners, and giving toilet paper to those who actually need it.
“If you had told me six weeks ago, not even years or months ago, I never would have thought I would be doing something like this,” Williams said.
On March 12, Williams opened the doors to his store after posting on Facebook his intentions to help those in need.
The response was a little overwhelming.
Over the course of the day, Williams collected roughly $700 in exchange for toilet paper, which he sold in packages of five in individually wrapped bags or packs of 12.
“Everyone who comes in has just been all smiles and so happy. It has been a great thing,” said Williams.
He said he felt out of his depth after telling the online world his intentions, as he didn’t think of the logistics of exchanging donations for toilet paper.
“I didn’t sleep [the night before], it just all came to me and I thought I was crazy.”
Some of the 1,000 rolls of toilet paper will also be donated to Sylvan Lake and Area Community Partners to be used for their Compassionate Care Program, Williams said.
“It’s just crazy to think it has come to this,” he said.
While stores may have difficulty keeping the product on the shelves, Canada’s leading producer of the product says there isn’t a shortage.
Kruger Products, which owns brands such as Cashmere, Purex, Scotties, White Swan and SpongeTowels, says customers will see the product catch up to the demand in coming weeks.
Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said in a press conference this week that there is no need to stock pile the product.
“We always recommend that people have about 72 hours worth of supplies for any emergency… In this particular scenario, I think people are seeing what’s happening in other countries, maybe getting worried and starting to go out and buy large amounts of things,” Dr. Hinshaw said.
She continued to say, this type behaviour contributes to the spreading of panic.
“What is important is if people, again, think about who is in their neighbourhood, who is in their family, if they were to be asked to be self-isolated… who could help them get groceries, does their pharmacy deliver medication. There are other ways of getting those kinds of products if you do have to stay home for 14 days,” she said.
Over social media others have offered their services to help those who are unable to get groceries or other supplies due to extenuating circumstances.
Residents are encouraged to keep up with good hygiene and hand washing processes at all times.
COVID-19 is believed to be spread mainly by coughing, sneezing or direct contact with someone who is sick with COVID-19 or with surfaces they have recently touched.