Local supermarkets ready for Y2K | AspenTimes.com

Local supermarkets ready for Y2K

John Colson

Ask Tom Clark Jr. about the impending New Year and its meaning for the computers and customers at Clark’s Markets in Aspen, Basalt and Carbondale, and he’ll give you a simple answer:

“Clark’s is Y2K OK.”

That, in fact, is the word at both of the major supermarkets in the valley. Managers at both Clark’s and City Market say they have taken all necessary precautions to keep their electronic doors operating and their computerized cash registers ringing.

“I even checked to see if the electronic doors run on a separate chip of their own,” says City Market, Inc. Y2K coordinator Karen Varshock. “They don’t.”

For City Market, Clark’s and most companies across the country, the Y2K problem is a relatively simple one. The computers they purchased up through the early 1990s logged dates with six digits – two for the month, two for the day and two for the year (09/13/64, for instance). With the new century’s unavoidable requirement that the year portion of that counting system begin anew at 00 and progress relentlessly one year at a time until reaching 99 again, those computers have no way of distinguishing between this century and the next.

Many fear the nation’s power grid will be the most significant victim of the turnover from 99 to 00, which is predicted to cause computers to shut down because they won’t be able to tell if its 1900 (long before they were even conceived of) or 2000.

Ready or not, citizens across the country, and shoppers up and down the valley are either bracing for or yawning over Y2K.

“No one else is ready the way we are,” said one woman who asked not to be identified as she left Clark’s Market in Aspen. “My Y2-hysterical husband is off the charts.”

She says that’s why they have a generator, extra fuel supplies, a freezer full of meat, a pantry full of canned and dried foods, and plenty of weapons to protect their stash.

On the other end of the spectrum is Joann Ross, who left Clark’s with a single plastic bag containing just a few items. “I’m leaving for France tomorrow. I just hope the supermarkets there are ready.”

Asked if she was taking along a few cases of bottled water, just in case, Ross answered, “No. I’m going to be drinking wine.”

In between are folks like Jamie Gomer of El Jebel, who says her family has taken a few precautions, like buying extra batteries for their flashlights and a 50-gallon water tank to fill up later this week, but she’s sure they’ll do fine regardless of what happens.

“We’ve always had a lot of food in the house at the beginning of winter, so it shouldn’t be a problem,” she said. And if it gets too cold, the family will use it’s winter camping gear to stay warm.

Managers at the Clark’s and City Markets up and down the valley report little change in people’s buying habits, despite the coming deadline.

“Our supplier in Utah says this is supposed to be an extra busy week. It might be somewhere else, but we haven’t seen it,” says Aspen Clark’s Market manager Tony Welgos.


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