COVID-19 Update: How’s Business? — From July/August
Sales and customer counts in 2020? What impact has COVID-19 had on your business? We’re up about 30 percent so far in 2020. Overall, the impact of COVID-19 has been good for business.
What’s selling well? Have you had to turn to non-traditional sources of supply? Everything has been selling well across the board. We’ve been getting by with our suppliers, even though we’ve had more shorts than typical. Our supply is about half House-Hasson and half Orgill.
Any adjustments to staffing, hours or operations? We haven’t had any major staffing issues. In the beginning, we told some of the older employees not to come in, as their families were concerned about them dealing with the public. The only real change in the store is that we put up plexiglass shields on the counters as a bit of a barrier when face to face. We put tape on the floor to indicate where people should stand in line to stay separated. We sanitize more. We have temporarily dropped some services, such as pipe cutting and screen repair. With so many people coming in and the store being so busy, the employees who would do those services just don’t have the time. We don’t promote curbside pickup, but whenever a customer asks for it, we’ll offer that.
Biggest challenge operating during the pandemic? Supply issues. We’ve had to do a few things differently. For example, our secretary/bookkeeper stayed home, so others started taking up some of her jobs. It’s strained our routine a little bit, but it’s a good challenge to do the bookkeeping, too.
Bloomfield Supply & Hardware
Sales and customer counts in 2020? What impact has COVID-19 had on your business? We started off OK and got better, and now we’re up about 20 percent. Business has been healthy, and the other thing that’s really helped is the Paycheck Protection Program.
What’s selling well? Have you had to turn to non-traditional sources of supply? Everything in general has been selling well. People were forced to stay home, and we were open as an essential business. A lot of people started doing projects. On our busiest days, it was not quite like a hurricane day, but it was really busy. We definitely had to turn to non-traditional suppliers for masks and gloves. We also started selling toilet paper that we were able to get from an industrial supplier. Those sales are starting to taper off now.
Any adjustments to staffing, hours or operations? Staffing is constant and we actually added a part-time position. We ordered plexiglass and it was installed in the first week of July. We have always done curbside pickup and delivery; it’s just become a bigger part of normal service.
What has been your biggest challenge operating during the pandemic? Do you require employees and customers to wear masks? Our biggest challenge has definitely been supply. Since the beginning, we required employees to wear masks and recently, mask-wearing in public has been mandated by our county. We supplied employees with handmade masks that were attractive and fun to wear. Before masks were mandatory, every time a customer without a mask would come in, we’d wash down the counter and other surfaces. Our focus was to make everything as healthy as possible for customers and employees.
Jupiter Hardware and Supply
Sales and customer counts in 2020? What impact has COVID-19 had on your business? We were one of the few businesses that were open, so we’re up. COVID-19 has caused additional stress with the cleaning and disinfecting we’re doing five or six times a day. But we’ve hung in there.
What’s selling well? Have you had to turn to non-traditional sources of supply? Everything has been selling. Our supply through True Value has stayed strong.
Any adjustments to staffing, hours or operations? There have been no staffing issues and we’ve been incredibly fortunate. We installed plexiglass shields in front of registers. We do offer curbside pickup. As of a few days ago, face masks are now a requirement. When we disinfect, we do everything—shopping carts, handles, touchpads, doors—everywhere that’s high traffic.
Do you require employees and customers to wear masks? Before the social distancing was mandated, we strongly encouraged the wearing of masks. But not everyone agreed, so that was stressful. But now that it’s mandated, people have been better about following the guidelines.
Rooster Home & Hardware
Sales and customer counts in 2020? What impact has COVID-19 had on your business? The year started off slow, but since COVID-19 started, it’s been excellent. We’re up about 20 to 30 percent in customer counts and up about 20 percent in sales. That overall impact has been because do-it-yourselfers have started completing their honey-do lists.
What’s selling well? Have you had to turn to non-traditional sources of supply? Lumber and pool equipment. The whole lawn and garden department has been very good, including all nursery items, plants, vegetables, flowers and potting soil. As far as suppliers, it varies based on supplier, but we’re only at about a 70 percent fill rate. I guess that’s common in the field now. We’ve had to go through a few different suppliers for hand sanitizers.
Any adjustments to staffing, hours or operations? No staffing issues. We’ve set up plexiglass around the cashier station. At first, we shut down for two weeks, then cut hours for two weeks. Then we realized people needed us, and we opened back up fully.
What has been your biggest challenge operating during the pandemic? The biggest challenge is trying to keep up with regulations and mandates. Another challenge is trying to learn the whole new tax credits that are going on.
Morey Lumber & Hardware
Fort Worth, TX
How are sales and customer counts in 2020? What impact has COVID-19 had on your business? Ever since COVID-19, we’re way up, about 89 percent. It’s been a huge increase, because people can’t go anywhere and are looking to do things around their homes.
What’s selling well? Have you had to turn to non-traditional sources of supply? Everything you need for a house, such as any wood, cement and anything for gardens. Power tools have been selling really well, too. Yes, it’s been a little difficult to supply anything made out of metal or plastic. We go through Do it Best, but they have been pretty good.
Any adjustments to staffing, hours or operations? At first, we had a knee-jerk reaction and people were nervous and didn’t show up. We did have an older employee stay home. We put up shields around counters and changed hours for a little while. We also offer curbside pickup. When all the COVID-19 started, we were afraid we were going to get mobbed after we received another load of toilet paper. We were braced for a mob and kept toilet paper behind the counter.
What has been your biggest challenge operating during the pandemic? Do you require employees or customers to wear masks? The biggest challenge is keeping up with demand—it’s been very busy. We don’t require, but strongly suggest, wearing masks.
Greer’s Do it Best Hardware
Subscribe for Free
The Hardware Connection is a digital magazine targeted to independent hardware/home improvement retailers. It is the only industry magazine designed and distributed solely in electronic format and currently reaches over 60,000 people in the two-step channel.
The Hardware Connection publishes four Newsletters each year in addition to eight magazine issues.
To sign up yourself or additional staff to a free subscription to receive The Hardware Connection magazine and newsletter in electronic format, please click here.