Diaper shortage exasperates Grand Falls-Windsor dad

A Grand Falls-Windsor father of baby triplets is trying to get to the bottom of why the area Wal-Mart is frequently running low on diapers.

Rodney Mercer is upset with Wal-Mart's diaper supply

A father of baby triplets in central Newfoundland is trying to get to the bottom of why a local Wal-Mart seems to be frequently low on its diaper supply.

A shelf sits low on diapers at a Wal-Mart store in Grand Falls-Windsor (CBC)
Grand Falls-Windsor resident Rodney Mercer says with three 19-month-old babies, he changes as many as 30 diapers every day.

Mercer, who prefers to buy his diapers at Wal-Mart because of the chain's prices, said the diaper shortage seems to have started earlier this spring.

"Based on stats alone, I would estimate that just here in Grand Falls-Windsor alone there's probably about 1,000 kids in diapers," Mercer said.

On one occasion Mercer had to drive about an hour east on the Trans-Canada Highway to Gander, when the Wal-Mart in Grand Falls-Windsor wasn't flush with Pampers.

Wal-Mart not living up to its duty: dad 

Other stores in the town carry diapers, but Mercer says they offer a limited selection on sizes. Wal-Mart typically stocks a full range of diaper sizes, he said. 

But Mercer thinks Wal-Mart is not living up to its duties for families in central Newfoundland.

"The town of Grand Falls-Windsor is the biggest municipality in central Newfoundland," said Rodney Mercer, who sits on the town council. 

"We have a service area that covers approximately 125,000 people. It is about 50 per cent the size of St. John's and in St. John's there [are] three Wal-Marts that I know of. There is also one in Mount Pearl. There is one a little ways away in Carbonear," he said.

"So for the Avalon Peninsula, that just got double the population we got, they got five times the service, and all of the stores [on the Avalon] are in much better condition than ours."

"So I think it's time for Wal-Mart to own up to their responsibility to central Newfoundland and do some major renovations or build a new store," Mercer said.

In a statement to CBC News, John Brea, vice-president of operations for Wal-Mart Atlantic Canada, said the company is trying to accommodate product demand.

"We know our customers depend on us to have the products they want, when they want them and at great pricing. We recently put our diapers on rollback and saw an overwhelming response from our customers. We are working hard to get more diapers on the shelves in our Grand-Falls Windsor store."

Mercer has request a meeting with a senior executive in management with Wal-Mart Canada for an explanation about the dwindling diaper numbers.

He suspects that there is something wrong with the company's computerized ordering system.

"The unfortunate thing about Wal-Mart, being such a big company, it's all done by automatic ordering. So as the stock [runs out], it re-orders itself."

Mercer added, "I could understand if there was an issue with Marine Atlantic not having any crossings because of ice or wind. But in my recent memory I don't think there has been any issues with Marine Atlantic."

Parents smell something funny on social media

Mercer referenced a thread on Facebook recently of other parents in the area also talking about Wal-Mart's shelves being depleted of diapers.

"According to parents here in Grand Falls-Windsor, I think this is after going viral even on Facebook. I think that is when the issue came about was with Facebook and social media. One parent posted a picture on Facebook and within minutes there were 25-30 comments," Mercer said.

For now, Mercer said he hopes he will not have to make another Gander diaper run anytime soon, and that the truck that's "always on the way with supplies" actually does show up.

"We have a big area coming into Grand Falls-Windsor for supplies and these people expect better. But more importantly these people deserve better from Wal-Mart."

With files from Natalia Goodwin


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