Snow Stampede

Kevin Russell, manager of the Wegman's store in Downingtown, interrupts his shelf stocking to give directions to Jen McSherry of Downingtown, shopping before the big storm her son Ryan. (Tom Gralish / Staff Photographer)

Bags of baby spinach inhabited the display case once occupied by the sold-out meat. A long line waited at the deli counter. The bagels were disappearing as soon as they popped out of the oven.

Even if this doesn't turn out to be the perfect storm, it has been the perfect storm threat for the giant Wegmans in Downingtown.

"Insane is an understatement," said store manager Kevin Russell, who appeared to be in amazingly good cheer for someone who had just worked a 15-hour day,  "insane in a really good way."

Wegmans was braced for the traditional pre-storm rush of panic shoppers, but by 9 a.m. yesterday, Russell knew he had a stampede on his hands. At 11 p.m., he had to recruit his managers to help with the registers. His chief chef was bagging.

Business, he said, was way beyond the high expectations, perhaps more than double the usual. With a 3 or 4 incher, sales will pick up, but this was a thing of beauty -- a weekend storm that already has set a new standard this winter for storm rumors. Meteorologists will tell you that if you say 6 to 12, people remember the "12." Say 1 to 2 feet, and theyll be looking for the "2." Plus, sources say a big football game is scheduled for Sunday.

As Russell unpacked boxes of frozen turkey sausages this morning, Jen McSherry, of Downingtown, and her 3-year-old son, Ryan, came by looking for hot dogs. Asked what she was buying, McSherry said, "everything." She's hosting a party Sunday, and just her luck, it looks like the roads will be clear enough for everyone to come. She figured she would have no shot of getting out and buying all these supplies on a snowbound Saturday. 

Otherwise, Russell said, people were buying the usual snow supplies -- bread, milk, eggs, meat for chilli fixings, what he calls "big-time comfort foods." Russell has his own hypothesis about all this.

As much as some of us like to fret and complain, most folks thoroughly enjoy a good snowstorm. It's an excuse for busy people to shut down, stoke their bodily engines with mass quantities of calories, and enjoy nature's virtuoso performance.

Said Russell: "I think they find it exciting."