NEW YORK CITY — Batteries, bottled water — and beer — were hot commodities as New Yorkers made last-minute preparations before hunkering down to ride out Hurricane Sandy.
At supermarkets, pharmacies and bodegas, shelves were picked bare of essential items, as well as non-perishable canned foods, cereals and granola bars, as the city prepared for what meteorologists predict will be an historic storm that could leave the city without power for days.
At the Fairway market in Red Hook, Onion rolls and strawberry-banana bread were among the only items left in the bread aisle Sunday afternoon. At a Duane Reade on the Upper East Side, water was nearly sold out, except for a few bottles of Blk. "fulvic Acid-infused" water and other obscure brands.
“I’ve never seen the shelves so bare,” said one employee.
But it wasn’t only essentials that were flying off the shelves.
“Beer’s actually doing surprisingly well,” said Alap Vora, 27, the owner of Concord Market in Downtown Brooklyn, where customers like Andrew Mulligan and Katie Maceira were loading up on chips and six-packs before the storm.
“Beer, pita chips — and cigarettes,” said Maceira, 27, running through the list of her purchases Sunday evening, before heading to her brother's apartment to ride out the storm.
Ice cream was also high on the list of several shoppers, including Ross Takahashi and his nine-year old daughter Iris, who could barely contain her excitement about getting to stay home from school.
“If we lose power, we’re just going to have to eat it all right away,” said Takahashi, 59, of the ice cream, noting that he'd purchased other essential items to ride out the storm earlier in the day.
Scotty Mitchell, 34, also picked up some last-minute items, including ice cream, but said that, after all of the hype about Hurricane Irene last year, he's not particularly concerned about Sandy.
"If it’s two days that we can’t buy stuff, it’s not going to be devastating," he said.
Stores across the city took different approaches, with some, including Starbucks, deciding to shutter their doors early so that employees could head home, while others prepared to stay open until their shelves ran bare.
“If we’ve got customers, we’re going to stay open," said Salah Khatari, 18, who works at Jay Street Deli in Downtown Brooklyn, where customers were still lining up on Sunday night.
Vora, of Concord, who plans to open Monday, said that he learned his lesson from Hurricane Irene last year and ordered extra merchandise last week to try to keep shelves stocked, including an extra 40 to 50 cases of water bottles and batteries.
Staff also worked to tape the store's front windows to prevent them shattering in the storm.
At Spot pet store in Lower Manhattan, staff went even further, placing towels under the front door to prevent potential flood water from seeping in.