This is a great phrasal verb today: to stock up. When you stock up, you buy a lot of things that will last a long time. The word “stock” has multiple meanings. One of the meanings is, “something that you have available or in storage.” You might go to a clothing store and ask if they have your favorite garment in your size. The clerk might tell you, “I’m sorry, we don’t have your size in stock.” That means, they don’t have your size available in that store.
So that’s what “stock” means in this sense. To stock up, then, is to buy larger quantities of things that are expected to last you for a while. We typically say “stock up” when we’re talking about things we regularly use. If you buy one tomato, a loaf of bread, a small package of ham, and a few slices of cheese: you’re not stocking up. You’re buying just enough for a couple of sandwiches.
But let’s say that your family is going away for a two-week vacation and you’ve rented a house or an apartment. You don’t want to spend your vacation constantly running to the store. When you get to your destination, you go to the store and you stock up. You buy what you need for the whole week or two weeks. You stock up. If there’s a big snowstorm coming, people stock up before the storm. It might not be easy to get out for a few days, so you’ll want to have enough food in the house. You stock up ahead of time.
This is how you heard it in today’s episode. Walmart is the king of retail in rural America. They have huge stores and even bigger parking lots. If you go to a Walmart at six or seven in the morning, chances are you might see some RV’s in the parking lots. Some companies might not want RV’s parked in their parking lots overnight without paying. Not Walmart: they love it. Why? Because they know that the people in the RV’s will probably stock up at Walmart before they leave. They’ll get food, supplies, water, gas, spare parts—whatever you need for your RV vacation, they have it at Walmart. You can stock up before hitting the road again.
So far, I’ve been using “stock up” in a general sense. Buy a lot of stuff that you need. But if you want to specify what you’re buying, you say “stock up on.” About once every two months, I go to a store called Target. It’s similar to Walmart. And when I go to Target, I stock up on household supplies. Laundry detergent, dishwashing soap, paper towels, cleaning supplies, toothpaste, things like that. Target tends to be a good value, so I stock up on household supplies there, instead of at my grocery store.
Here in Chicago, the very best maker of Mexican tortillas is called “El Milagro,” the miracle. And they stopped making their tortillas at their factory on Western Avenue in the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago. It’s a famous tortilla factory—the most popular tortillas in all of Chicago. They had to close the factory for several weeks of sanitation after a worker died of COVID-19. So what did everyone do at the Mexican grocery stores after the news broke? They went to stock up on tortillas. They bought enough to last them a while. People stocked up on tortillas, knowing they wouldn’t be able to buy their favorites for at least a few weeks afterward.
Grilling season is coming and that means it’s time to stock up on your favorite meats for the summer grilling season. Now, it’s not common to say you’re stocking up on fresh food, because fresh food can go bad. You can say that, but it’s less common. But if you have a big freezer, you might stock up on frozen meat, so you always have something to put in the fridge to cook on the grill the next day.
Today is June 1, and that means today is the official start of “hurricane season” in the Caribbean and Florida. It doesn’t mean that there are hurricanes for that whole time—just that this is when hurricanes typically develop. If you live in Florida, you’re making your annual trip to the stores to stock up on supplies in case a big hurricane comes. If you live near the coast, you need to be prepared to lose power for a few days or longer. So you need to stock up on water, stock up on dried food, stock up on supplies. Put that away and hope you don’t need it—but you’ll be glad you have it if a storm hits.
Quote of the Week
Here’s your quote of the week. It’s by the American author Irving Wallace. He said, “Every man can transform the world from one of monotony and drabness to one of excitement and adventure.” Indeed you can, and I like this quote because an RV is a simple way to travel. It’s not exotic and there are a lot of hours on the road when you drive in an RV. But traveling by RV is a great way to feel excitement and adventure—at least I think it is!
See you next time!
You’ll be interested to know that I live near the RV Hall of Fame. That’s right. It’s in the city of Elkhart, Indiana, about an hour, maybe two from Chicago. Elkhart is where they manufacture these huge vehicles. I’ve never been to the museum. You can see it from the highway, right from the Indiana Toll Road, on the right-hand side as you go east. I’ll have to stop in next time I pass by.
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