LOS ANGELES — Mayor Eric Garcetti and Governor Gavin Newsom keep reminding Californians not to hoard, but somehow store shelves still remain empty. A phone app is attempting to help the community find the essential items that have been out of stock around SoCal.

Finding a plethora of bottled water in a grocery store is like finding an oasis in a desert. Vivian Tran is shopping for her grandparents who are staying safely at home. It has been hard to find the basics they need, so here she knows she hit the jackpot.


She then posts her discovery to the Emergency Supply Finder on the Markk App, where Vivian is able to learn what stores are still in stock, while also telling others what she sees.

“No toilet paper or paper towels sold here,” said Tran.

Ever since the coronavirus outbreak hit, and the "Safer at Home" order went into effect, SoCal residents flocked to the stores to stock up on what they thought they needed, leaving shelves empty, without essentials like water, cleaning products, and toilet paper. Tran now is able to do her part by informing the public.


“While I’m there already, it was nice to have the app to not only have that information for myself but also let other people know,” said Tran.

This is a new feature on the app that originally was an in-the-moment restaurant reviewer. Tran was an avid user, always wanting to help others.

“I actually love informing people and the closest thing I can do is help my community. It saves them the time and saves them the trouble,” said Tran.

Co-creator of the app Sunil Mohan said they noticed less people using it, as more people stayed at home. But then he saw a change in what users were posting.

“People were posting pictures not just of restaurants and bars, but posting pictures of supermarket shelves,” said Mohan.

Within 36 hours, the team created the new Emergency Supply Finder to fit the growing need in the community. He hopes this will help consumers in a chaotic time.

“We are always looking at what our customers are doing and what our customers need. We need to be solving problems they have. There is so much anxiety and people wondering what they should do. It’s the basic necessities that people are worried about and as a company we need to respond to that,” said Tran.

Tran continues her search and even got toilet paper at a warehouse and posted the tip. But don’t worry, she is sharing this surplus with her grandparents. She’s not hoarding, which she asks others not to do.

“Be mindful. People are buying too much stuff. It doesn’t cost anything to be kind,” said Tran.

Words to live by: it doesn’t cost anything to be kind in this time of need.

The Markk App and Emergency Supply Finder can be used in any city. Right now, it is mainly in the Los Angeles area, but if you start using it where you live and spread the word, it can help your community.