One of the most popular activities on Wednesday afternoon, as the clock ticked down to the predicted snow storm, had to be grocery shopping.

Piggy Wiggly manager Terry Murchison was braced.

"We got plenty of water, bread, milk and juice," he said, rattling off the list of most purchased items in such a situation. "We try to make sure we have got enough stuff prepared for it.

"We stock up accordingly. We get extra just in case the truck can't get through."

The day produced a steady stream of shoppers, he said. It was pretty equally divided between those stocking up on essentials and those buying just a few items.

Still in all, when it comes to bread and water, "a lot of it is going out" of the store, Murchison said.

By mid-afternoon, no snowflakes in sight, he said there had been no decision made about closing the store early. The regular hours are 7 a.m. until 9 p.m.

Within a few minutes, though, that all changed, with signs being posted at the entrance that the store would close at 8 p.m.

Outside Food Lion on Ash Street, Laura Miller loaded a few bags in the trunk of her car.

"I didn't even know there was going to be a storm until about an hour ago," she said. "I was out when I realized we were probably going to get four or five inches of snow."

She was surprised, but knew how to respond. After all, she moved here 12 years ago from Alaska.

"I have never had a problem here," she said, adding, " It's actually more difficult to drive here than it is there."

She stumbled upon quite a few others in her path, she said.

"There were a lot of people in the store. The lines are long and a lot of people are cranky," she said.

As for her personal list, she said she stuck with the basics -- water, bagels and some beer.

At Carlie C's, shopping carts were at a premium. Most of them were in use inside the store.

Scott Tyson, grocery manager, arrived around 2:30 p.m., he said, and discovered most shoppers had the same idea.

Eggs, bread, milk and "stuff for soup and chili" topped the list, he said.

Close behind, perhaps not necessities but important nonetheless, would probably be alcohol, he said with a laugh, adding, "Kleenex, for the crying."

Store officials do pay attention to weather forecasts as they stock shelves, he said.

"The forecast is posted by the time clock," he said. "We get a truck three times a week, so we're in good shape.

"We always try to plan."

The independent grocer has had a pretty good track record, Tyson said.

"When (Hurricane) Matthew came through, we were the only store here with power for five days," he said. "We've got a generator that can run this store now.

"We're ready. Tell them (customers) to come on down!"

With no snow in sight, it was difficult to predict whether an early store closure might be necessary. Tyson said they were taking a wait-and-see approach.

"We're not going to jeopardize anybody's life for groceries," he said, be it customers or store employees.

Amanda McKinnon had just wrapped up her shopping excursion at Carlie C's and was waiting outside for a ride.

Her cart was full, but it was business as usual, she said.

"It's grocery day for me anyway so I came out to shop," she said. "Then with the storm coming, I knew I had to stock up on stuff.

"I don't even have a list. The main thing was getting bread, snacks, in case the power goes out, we've got to have snacks you don't need to cook."

The day was also a special one for her personally -- her birthday. So of course, she had to venture out to get a cake.

McKinnon said she put her order in earlier, opting for a pineapple sheet cake this year.

With that in tow, she was good to go.

"I got everything but the bread," she said. "I have to go somewhere else and get that."