WORTHINGTON — Whether it's men working on “honey do” list or women ready to give the home a refresh, area stores who cater to do-it-yourselfers are seeing strong business as people are furloughed and complying with nationwide orders to stay home in hopes of slowing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Both Schwalbach Ace Hardware and Diamond Vogel along Worthington’s Oxford Street have sold “hundreds” of gallons of paint since Gov. Tim Walz announced stay-at-home orders. Along with paint, customers are buying paint brushes, rollers, tape and related materials.
“There’s hair salons, businesses and restaurants that are taking advantage of this time (of forced closure) and doing some painting,” said Jeri Kruger, giftware department manager at Schwalbach Ace Hardware.
While the store has been keeping up with customer requests, Kruger said it has had to get extra truck deliveries the past couple of weeks “just to keep people in paint.” Normally, the store gets one truck in a week with merchandise.
The local hardware store is doing what it can to protect its patrons while continuing to operate with open doors. Numerous customers seeking paint are calling in to request paint chips, which they can either pick up at the front counter or ask to have brought out to their awaiting vehicle.
After calling in their order and paying by credit card, the customer is told when it will be ready for pickup. Again, they have the option of having the paint delivered right to their car in the parking lot.
Kruger said while the paint department has been busy, other departments have also seen increased traffic — particularly the aisle of disinfectants and, now that the weather is warming up, lawn and garden items.
Diamond Vogel is also keeping up with an increased demand for paint and supplies, said saleswoman Kelsey Rogers.
“We’ve been very busy,” said Rogers, even though the store is closed to foot traffic, has shortened hours during the week and is now temporarily closed on Saturdays.
People are encouraged to call in their order, and if they don’t know what they want, staff will also pull paint chips and put together a collection they can pick up just outside the store’s front door.
“There’s no interaction and they can just pick it up,” Rogers said. “In a lot of cases, they call in the next day with their order.”
While initially worried about a drop in sales due to COVID-19 and the stay-at-home orders, Rogers said that has not been the case.
“That’s good for us,” she said. “We appreciate the support. It’s nice to see, and we’re happy to help.”
Some customers are in the process of painting every room in the house, so they’re picking up primer and paint in five-gallon buckets, while the majority of retail sales are for a gallon or two.
“We’ve run out of some things that are hot sellers,” she said, noting the store is also getting regular weekly deliveries. “One of our big paint sellers is eggshell finish. It just seems like people are wanting to paint lighter colors and eggshell finish.”
While paint stores have seen an uptick in business, so have building supply stores.
At Lampert Lumber in Worthington, manager Marshall Helmers said the business is open to walk-in traffic, but it's preferred that customers call ahead with their orders. This way, they can do a credit card transaction over the phone as well and not have to handle cash in the store due to COVID-19 concerns.
“We’ll take 15 to 20 phone orders, which is out of the ordinary from our normal business,” Helmers said. “Most of the projects (people) have been doing are anywhere from small projects — caulking cracks in concrete to framing up a wall in the basement.
“We’ve been getting a lot of responses that people are bored at home and just want to do something,” he added.
Lampert’s supplies material for a lot of local contractors, and Helmers said that traffic is steady.
“They’re staying plenty busy,” he shared. “They’ve been calling in orders, and we’re doing about a dozen deliveries a day. Our deliveries have probably doubled as a result of this — and it’s a little more convenient for them.”
As the weather warms up, Helmers anticipates he’ll see people wanting to work on bigger home improvement projects like decks, windows, storm doors, siding and shingling.
At Luverne Building Center, owner Nick Mead said he’s also seeing more walk-in traffic as people look to do small projects like install shelving, add trim around doors or do Pinterest-type projects during the stay-at-home orders.
The business has opted to keep its doors closed, but customers are welcome to call in their orders and drive up out front to have materials loaded in their vehicle. Local contractors are still able to access what they need from the lumberyard.
“It’s been pretty steady with the everydayers doing projects,” Mead said of business.
Back in Worthington, Worthington Building Materials has opted to close to the public during this time. Contractors, however, are still allowed to come in and get supplies.
At Carpet Plus, the doors are also closed to the public and no new projects are being ordered at this time. Carpet installers are still out doing projects that were scheduled prior to the stay-at-home orders.