You may have noticed your local Superstore or No Frills looking a little barren in some aisles.

You may have noticed your local Superstore or No Frills looking a little barren in some aisles.

Take the freezer section of Portage Avenue’s Superstore Monday morning: the shelves that usually held yogurt snacks and drinks were empty, aside from a few Minigos and Iögos. Further down, the supply of frozen breakfast food had shrunk.

Aisles lacked popcorn, coffee sweeteners, certain brands of crackers and sour cream. Fish, cereal and some breads, like baguettes, were depleted.

It was a similar situation in many Loblaw-owned stores in Winnipeg.

A warehouse roof collapse has disrupted the retailer’s Manitoba supply chain, several employees told the Free Press. Loblaw did not respond to multiple interview requests over the course of several days.

The roof of the Loblaw distribution centre at 1263 Pacific Ave. collapsed under the weight of snow and damaged natural gas equipment, according to Bruce Owen, Manitoba Hydro’s media relations officer. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press)

The roof of the Loblaw distribution centre at 1263 Pacific Ave. collapsed under the weight of snow and damaged natural gas equipment, according to Bruce Owen, Manitoba Hydro’s media relations officer. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press)

Now, shipments usually coming from the 1263 Pacific Ave. hub must be transported from Regina, Sask., employees said.

The roof collapsed under the weight of snow and damaged natural gas equipment, according to Bruce Owen, Manitoba Hydro’s media relations officer.

The Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service responded to reports that the building’s roof had partially collapsed on March 4 around 8 p.m.

"Upon arrival on scene, crews were notified that all staff in the building at the time of the collapse had safely self-evacuated," Erin Madden, the WFPS’s communications officer, wrote in an email.

Some breads, like baguettes, were depleted at the Superstore at 3193 Portage Ave. (Gabrielle Piché / Winnipeg Free Press)

Some breads, like baguettes, were depleted at the Superstore at 3193 Portage Ave. (Gabrielle Piché / Winnipeg Free Press)

No injuries were reported, she said.

Crews stayed on site until Manitoba Hydro arrived to repair a natural gas leak. The collapse likely caused the leak, Madden said.

The WFPS then surveyed the building via drone.

"The images captured by the drone were used to ensure that parts of (the) building remained structurally sound," Madden wrote.

Crews ventilated the building and turned off the alarms and sprinklers, the latter of which was damaged during the event, Madden wrote.

On Monday, there were no obvious signs of construction at the warehouse, which shares a space with Loblaw’s corporate office.

Back in stores, shoppers are adapting their grocery lists after coming up empty on a variety of items.

"I’ve found most of the stuff, but I see the produce… is pretty scarce," Leona Schroeder said at Tom’s No Frills Monday.

Empty freezers at the Superstore on Portage Avenue. (Gabrielle Piché / Winnipeg Free Press)

Empty freezers at the Superstore on Portage Avenue. (Gabrielle Piché / Winnipeg Free Press)

Loblaw, Canada’s largest grocery chain, operates a number of brands, including Real Canadian Superstore, No Frills, Shoppers Drug Mart and Wholesale Club.

Schroeder said she might peruse a nearby Safeway for lettuce. No Frills is her first stop: it’s generally cheaper and close to home, she said.

"Every penny counts. Everything is getting higher (price-wise)," Schroeder said, with orange juice and Eggo waffles in her cart for her daughter and grandkids.

Leslye Baldam searched the Roblin Boulevard shop for vanilla coffee flavour and a small box of Cheerios. Ultimately, she settled on a different brand of syrup and a larger cereal box.

"I’m not super disappointed," she said. "I just substitute for other things. You kind of have to."

Baldam said she’s been working in the hospitality sector for decades, including a stint at No Frills.

"It’s not the company’s fault," she said, adding she has compassion for the staff. "It is really, really hard to tell someone, ‘Sorry, we don’t have rice today; we just can’t get it.’"

Frito-Lay  pulled its goods last month in an on-going pricing dispute with Loblaw. (Gabrielle Piché / Winnipeg Free Press)

Frito-Lay pulled its goods last month in an on-going pricing dispute with Loblaw. (Gabrielle Piché / Winnipeg Free Press)

Baldam, who works at a restaurant, said having goods delivered is difficult, between a lack of truck drivers, production backlogs and other supply chain issues.

Bob Lynch has taken to stocking up on certain items, like peanut butter.

"I used to buy it on sale, but now I buy it if it’s there," he said at Westwood’s Superstore Monday.

You never know when the next essential will be unavailable, Lynch added.

As previously reported, Superstore’s potato chip aisle was stocked with Old Dutch and its own No Name and President’s Choice brands.

Frito-Lay products (including Lay’s, Doritos and Cheetos) were unavailable. The snack producer pulled its goods last month in an on-going pricing dispute with Loblaw.

gabrielle.piche@winnipegfreepress.com

Gabrielle Piché

Gabrielle Piché
Reporter

Gabby is a big fan of people, writing and learning. She graduated from Red River College’s Creative Communications program in the spring of 2020.