BANGOR, Maine — Nowadays, supermarket shelves where toilet paper once lived are bare.
The demand for the product? A mystery to many.
A new manufacturing company in Bangor is helping local retailers stock back up.
Tissue Plus in Bangor finished setting up the machinery they needed just last month. Perfect timing to help out during the Coronavirus outbreak.
Now they are loading trucks of toilet paper going to small businesses and local owners selling the product across Maine.
Even though the demand is higher than usual, Tissue Plus is not bumping up their toilet paper roll prices!
"Our end product such as the toilet paper now, we are not seeling it at a premium...we are keeping true to our projections and our costs that our clients..so that they are not hurt and our end users are not hurt either," said Jake Cooper, the Operations and Innovations Director.
"We are still not sure why people are stocking up on toilet paper."
A psychologist said people sometimes panic buy to get a sense of control.
"People are buying it by the caseloads and its like, I don't get it!" said Brandon Kenney, the IGA Brewer store manager.
Marc Cooper owns Tissue Plus in Bangor, he buys raw tissue paper from St. Croix Tissue in Baileyville. Then at the factory in Bangor, long rolls of paper are cut into normal size toilet papers, then they are wrapped, placed in a box by hand... and off it goes throughout the state.
These days his phone is ringing off the hook as orders bump up because of the Coronavirus outbreak.
For now, he only distributes his end product to local Maine businesses and retailers.
"There's an input-output procedure of a parent roll into a finished product such as a toilet paper roll, or paper towel or napkins," said Cooper.
But to meet the current demand?
"We've been running a double shift so it's about 7:30 in the morning to 4:30 in the afternoon and then another one from that on until 10:30 at night," said Cooper.
The average person uses between a half and a full roll a week. But in recent weeks, people have been panic buying the product. That has led supermarkets to limit the number of toilet paper rolls each person can buy.
"They can still get what they want but again it's a reasonable amount so that everyone can come in and get it," said Kenney.
According to a psychologist from the University of British Columbia, people panic buy to get a sense of control. Many also think buying in bulk saves them from repeat trips to the store.
"So with the demand, we are trying to supply as much as we can and everyone has a demand for it," said Cooper.
Tissue Plus continues to increase its production rates and is even hiring more staff these days.
The company also donated boxes filled up with rolls to a local homeless shelter that ran out of toilet paper and were going to start using paper towels. Cooper says they are happy to help the community in times of need.