California man runs toilet paper exchange on street corner as coronavirus leads to shortages

Bummed out by empty store shelves and the hoarding of critical supplies by shoppers panicked over the coronavirus pandemic, a California man took to the streets over the weekend to get others to look out for their fellow man.

Jonny Blue, 33, a physical therapist from Encinitas, stood on a busy intersection for several hours Saturday holding a cardboard sign: “Share your toilet paper.”

The response was positive, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported, with drivers honking their horns and dropping off rolls in an impromptu toilet paper exchange.


“It just inspired me to remind people, listen, if you have a lot of something that probably means there are people who probably don’t have very much of it, because you took it all,” Blue told the newspaper. “So sharing it is probably a good thing to keep in mind.”

The idea came to Blue after a friend told him he had a difficult time finding diapers and supplies for his kids. On Saturday, he gave rolls out to one motorist who said he couldn't find any at several stores.

“He was like, ‘Do you want me to pay you?’ I said, ‘No, man. Somebody gave it to me. Take it,’” Blue said.

Videos and images of empty stores and shoppers hoarding essential supplies have prompted many retail outlets to limit the number of certain items that can be purchased. Toilet paper, hand sanitizer and water are among the most sought-after supplies.


Government officials, including President Trump, are urging shoppers to not hoard supplies and reminded the public that the supply chain is healthy.

“I think people want a sense of community,” Blue said. “When things are really challenging, people are looking to band together and be unified. It feels like I kind of struck on a common theme where people were thinking, ‘Why are people hoarding toilet paper?’"