Wealthy people who have flocked to the Hamptons to escape the coronavirus are ransacking grocery stores in epic shopping sprees that are costing thousands of dollars a pop.
Since COVID-19 hit Long Island’s tony beach towns last week, its residents have been lining up for groceries and other essentials as they prepare to hunker down at home. But unlike in other parts of the country, Hamptonites are dropping massive amounts of money as they clean up on high-end goods, like salmon, steaks and rare bottles of wine, sources said.
“I had one customer spend $8,000,” said Joe Gurrera, founder of upscale supermarket chain Citarella. “You know when you see someone with a full shopping cart? Now they have five.”
The well-heeled shoppers are buying “pretty much everything they can,” said Gurrera, whose stores are known for carrying gourmet goods. “Instead of asking for one or two steaks on a tray, a customer will buy the whole tray. Then they’ll move on to shrimp, and buy all the shrimp, and then they’ll buy all the salmon steaks.”
Once they’re done demolishing the meat and fish section, they move on to the prepared foods, Gurrera said. “Instead of asking for a slice of lasagna, they’ll buy all of it. Then they’ll buy all of our root vegetables,” he added.
“Business is insane. We are doing far more business than in July and August,” said Gurrera, who has four stores in Manhattan, three in the Hamptons and one in Greenwich, Connecticut. “People are spending thousands of dollars at a time.”
Hamptons liquor stores also are making bank. At Wainscott Main Wine & Spirits near East Hampton, business was up 500 percent last Friday, to $12,000, compared with the same day last year, said owner Joel Kaye. Freaked-out customers are spending $400 to $2,000 at a time, instead of the normal $75, he said.
“Our clients are stocking up their wine cellars, buying things like eight bottles of a good $200 Napa burgundy, instead of one bottle,” Kaye said, adding that he even sold a $325 bottle of hard-to-get Chablis.
“It feels like the Fourth of July,” added store manager Luis Marin. “We’re having fun and trying to stay open as much as we are allowed to. Our summer people are here and stocking up while they self-quarantine.”
As The Post reported Monday, people escaping to the Hamptons had been going out to eat in droves until the area’s first coronavirus case was confirmed on March 12 — sending people running for shelter.
Philanthropist and socialite Jean Shafiroff is accustomed to dining out on a nightly basis. But in the face of the coronavirus, she has taken the unfamiliar step of cooking for her husband, daughter and her daughter’s boyfriend. And it’s not been cheap.
“I’m spending $300 to $1,000 a day on food and supplies,” she said. The money goes toward chicken and salmon steaks, some of which she freezes, as well as for cleaning supplies and food for her dogs.
“I even bought the drugstore out of all its dental floss. I wanted to make sure I had enough, along with extra toothbrushes, soap, toothpaste and body lotions,” she said. “If I have to be quarantined, I better look nice.”
Shafiroff also is buying canned goods like the rest of America, but only out of an abundance of caution. “I can donate them later,” she said of the items like Progresso chicken noodle soup and Del Monte peas and carrots — brands “I had never heard of before.”
The stockpiling also has meant buying an extra freezer to store the goodies, as well as extra pots and pans for cooking, the philanthropist said.
She still goes to the beauty parlor often, including a recent trip to get her eyelashes done, but now dons a face mask.
“If I look bad, I will be depressed, even if I am just staying at home,” she explained. And on Monday, she also made a trip back to Manhattan — with a friend and her driver — to pick up “more clothes and the mail,” and a “big giant jar of Le Mer face cream.”
The sheltering experiment has already led to memorable family moments, like the night her daughter’s boyfriend, who is from Texas, made chili. It was such a departure from her normal life of fancy gowns and charity galas that she posted a pic of the stew online.
“It’s on my Instagram,” she said.
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