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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Retailers sell out of safety glasses in advance of Monday’s eclipse

In this Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017 photo, Colton Hammer tries out his new eclipse glasses he just bought from the Clark Planetarium in Salt Lake City in preparation for the eclipse. (Scott G Winterton / AP)

If you’re a last-minute shopper still wanting to buy a pair of solar eclipse glasses, you may be out of luck.

Local retailers say a run on safety glasses has cleared out their stock.

“We sold more than 10,000 of the eclipse glasses,” said a clerk at the Fred Meyer’s in Coeur d’Alene. “We’re not expecting any more.”

At Lowe’s in Coeur d’Alene, customers snatched up eclipse glasses during a second stocking earlier this week. The store sold out within four hours.

At Spokane and Spokane Valley outlets of Fred Meyer, Lowe’s and Walmart, the response was similar.

“We sold out weeks ago,” a Walmart clerk said.

A Fred Meyer spokesman said the retailer was trying to restock the glasses at 15 of its suburban Portland stores by Friday, but no Eastern Washington or North Idaho stores were on the list.

Fred Meyer stores in the path of the total eclipse are still well-stocked, said Jeffery Temple, the company spokesman, in a Wednesday afternoon email.

Silverwood Theme Park near Athol, Idaho, was advertising that it would have 3,000 eclipse glasses for sale during a 9 a.m. “viewing party” at the park on Monday. Park officials said 200 pairs would be given away on a first-come, first-served basis.

Monday’s eclipse will be visible across North America. The path of the total eclipse, where the moon completely covers the sun and the sun’s corona can be seen, will stretch from Salem to Charleston, South Carolina.

Earlier this month, Amazon sent out recall notices to some customers who purchased eclipse glasses through the online retailer, saying the glasses didn’t meet safety standards from NASA or the American Astronomical Society for blocking the sun’s rays . People can check the list of approved brands on the society’s website to ensure their glasses will allow them to view eclipse without damaging their eyes.

On a positive note, messages about safe eclipse viewing appear to be hitting home, said Jan Simpson, CEO of the Spokane Eye Clinic.

The clinic’s eye doctors have been working to remind patients that looking directly at the sun can burn the retina, causing scarring that can lead to blindness.

In the Spokane area, the moon will cover about 92 percent of the sun at the peak of the eclipse at 10:27 a.m. Monday. Since Spokane isn’t on the path of the total eclipse, there isn’t any time when local residents can safely view the eclipse without approved eyewear, Simpson said.

As part of a promotion with ABC-affiliate KXLY-TV, Spokane Eye Clinic gave away 2,700 pairs of the eclipse safety glasses. Demand for the glasses outpaced supply.

“We handled 10,000 phone calls about the glasses,” Simpson said.

The first 1,200 glasses arrived last week and were gone within hours.

Spokane Eye Clinic received another 1,500 eclipse glasses this week, which were given out Tuesday at the clinic’s three locations.

By 8 a.m. Tuesday, people were lined up “20 to 30 deep,” Simpson said. “Some people waited hours for these glasses.”

Some online retailers are still advertising the glasses, but getting them in time would require overnight shipping, she said. People also can use a welder’s shield to view the eclipse, but only if it’s rated at a Shade 12 or higher, Simpson said.

Now, Spokane Eye Clinic is promoting other ways to safely view the eclipse. NASA’s website has directions for making a pinhole projector out of a cereal box to indirectly view the progress of the eclipse. Binoculars can be used to create a box projector, which creates a larger projected image of the eclipse.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.