Is “Tiger King” coming back too?

With covid numbers spiking again, general unrest about the election and the political and economic landscape, and more state restrictions looming this week, the familiar spectre of dwindling supplies on shelves — particularly toilet paper — is starting to loom in some area stores.

A visit to four area locations — a Target, a Walmart, and two HyVee stores — showed that shelves in some are starting to look a little short, and one store — the Moline Target on John Deere Road — has already put up signs limiting customers to only one package of toilet paper per

Signs restricting purchases to one per customer have returned to the shelves of Target in Moline.

purchase, a throwback to the same limitations imposed in March and April during the first part of the pandemic surge.

Covid numbers have been spiking in Illinois and the Quad-Cities in recent weeks, with an all-time high of 8,519 cases on Oct. 30.

Rock Island County has had 824 cases over the past two weeks, with 4,609 cases and 103 deaths so far during the pandemic.

In addition, Illinois Quad-Cities businesses have been notified by the state to begin preparing for a shutdown and covid mitigation procedures beginning Wednesday, multiple small business owners who asked not to be identified told QuadCities.com Sunday.

It’s beginning to look a lot like March, not only in the Quad-Cities, but nationwide, as people are starting to get nervous about the foreshadowing they’re seeing in regard to covid numbers and potential shutdowns and restrictions.

USA Today recently ran an article on the growing trend of people starting to prepare for another potential shutdown. Over half of Americans said

Target in Moline showed some heavy buying interest in toilet paper, with some brands sold out and others down to just a few packages.

they’re already stockpiling food and toilet paper again in preparation for the fall covid surge, according to a recent poll from Sports and Leisure Research Group, Engagious and ROKK Solutions.

Business Insider just ran another story on where people could buy toilet paper online. And online shopping site Instacart reported an almost 20 percent surge in online searches for toilet paper in the past two weeks.

Local stores’ shelves are reflecting that growing trend. Although most still have quite a bit of TP on their shelves, it’s nowhere near fully stocked, and in some stores, like the Moline Target, the shelves are starting to show the increasing demand. Hence the signs returning telling people that they can only purchase one item.

Employees at the stores spoke on condition of anonymity, and had mixed opinions.

At Target, the shelves are starting to look bare already, hence the signage. “We started to notice that people were starting to buy a lot more again, so that’s why I think we did it,” one Target employee said. “I noticed we started to get more people buying it in the last couple weeks, but it’s nothing like it was in the spring.”

HyVee in Moline was mostly well-stocked, although a few brands were off the shelves.

“Yeah, we’re starting to see more people start to buy more again, now that the covid is coming back,” one WalMart employee said. The store in Moline was still adequately stocked, but you could definitely see there were gaps in the stacks, showing there had been a lot of purchases.

At HyVee in Moline, it was also a mixed bag, as some brand names were in short supply, but overall they were well stocked in regard to off-brand toilet paper.

“We haven’t really seen it much yet, nothing like it was in the spring,” a HyVee employee said. “I guess some brands you’re starting to see there’s less on the shelves, but that’s about it.”

Other items which were subject to shortages in the spring haven’t seemed to have been hit by the same increasing demand. Canned goods and frozen items are still in full supply on the shelves, soaps of all types and cleaning products are likewise showing no shortages, and hand sanitizer — which was as highly in demand as toilet paper at the onset of the surge in March — is very well stocked, with all of the stores visited having multiple brands and options stocked up on multiple shelves.

So while it’s something to keep an eye on, we’re not quite at spring levels yet.

In other news, whether this is an omen or not, I’m not sure, but there is a sequel to “Tiger King” scheduled.

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Sean Leary is an author, director, artist, musician, producer and entrepreneur who has been writing professionally since debuting at age 11 in the pages of the Comics Buyers Guide. An honors graduate of the University of Southern California masters program, he has written over 50 books including the best-sellers The Arimathean, Every Number is Lucky to Someone and We Are All Characters.