WINCHESTER — Before the sun came up Tuesday, Larry and Debbie Wilson hopped in their truck and drove an hour from outside of Berkeley Springs, W.Va., to the Walmart off Northwestern Pike (U.S. 50) in Frederick County to stock up on supplies during the first set of shopping hours for those age 60 and older at the location.

The Wilsons were the first shoppers in the parking lot at 5 a.m., they said, and they waited in line for an hour before Walmart opened at 6 a.m. for the hourlong specified shopping time.

They were looking for things like bread, toilet paper, salt, beer and wine, they said, and they found almost everything they needed.

“It went fine. Shelves are still low, but they’re putting things out there,” Larry said.

Hundreds like the Wilsons lined up to get inside Walmart at 6 a.m., mostly spaced about 6 feet apart in line. The store allowed about 10 people at a time to allow for spacing inside the store. After a group of 10 was allowed inside, there was about a 30-second break before the next group was allowed in.

In response to the COVID-19 coronavirus, some stores have set aside a time each morning for people age 60 and older to do their shopping. Older people, health experts say, are in more danger from the virus.

On Tuesday morning at Walmart, there were no complaints, no shouting and no shoving outside of the store. Many customers donned masks and gloves and were seen wiping down their carts upon entry. Once inside, shoppers were told where to find high-demand items like toilet paper and paper towels.

Customers were limited in purchasing some items — “You can only get one thing of toilet paper,” Debbie Wilson said on her way out of the store.

Pat McMartin, of Frederick County, said she had no issue finding what she needed. She was able to grab the few items on her list and head back out rather quickly.

“Very easy,” she said. “It was really fantastic.”

Others weren’t so lucky.

Larry and Linda Clark from Clear Brook said they couldn’t find things like hot dogs, eggs, tea bags and a few other items on their list.

“We’re on our way to Costco. We’re hoping they’ll have the few other things we need,” Linda said.

Some customers hurried out of the store after buying items quickly, hoping to catch a prime spot in line at Costco off Front Royal Pike (U.S 522), which is allowing those over 60 to shop between 8 and 9 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Others, however, used time in the parking lot to talk to old friends they typically run into at Walmart.

Customers remarked that they were thankful stores like Walmart, Costco and others had opened their doors for seniors-only shopping. Some, like the Wilsons, agreed it helped create a more civil shopping environment.

“I seen a few people butting in line, but nothing real bad,” Larry Wilson said.

His wife, Debbie, agreed: “Oh, yeah. It helped a lot.”

— Contact Matt Welch at

(2) comments


What would be even better is if we could get info on when the items that seem to be hoarded the most might be coming in on the delivery trucks. Eggs and flour have been missing EVERY time I head to the store.


May I suggest that the Star provide a list of local grocery stores that have special senior hours with the days and times. It would also be helpful to provide a list of those that offer online ordering and outside pickup. To me, that would be information that would help the community and would be more helpful than a "feature" about how people feel about shopping.

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