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Hardware Stores See More DIY-ers Amid Virus

By SHELLEY

HANSON

Staff Writer

The COVID-19 pandemic — because of its orders, curfews and cause for concerns in general — meant more people stayed at home during the past year.

This left many people with time to take a closer look at what needed to be done to their homes in terms of repairs and improvements.

From simple coats of paint on the walls to construction or renovations of whole rooms, many across the United States found themselves with time to do such projects.

Hardware stores across the country likely welcomed such business since their bottom lines began feeling the pinch in the loss of dollars not spent by thousands of others who were laid off.

Along with big box retailers such as Lowe’s, Home Depot and others, local hardware stores also helped people find what they needed to make their home projects go smoothly. And they continue to do so today.

Mike Miklas, owner of Ferry Hardware in Martins Ferry, said his store has had ups and downs during the pandemic, but he is grateful his business was deemed essential by the state early on.

“I feel terrible for the businesses that couldn’t stay open,” he added.

Still, in the beginning of the stay-at-home order, it was rough.

“Early on it was a ghost town for the first three to four weeks,” he said. “When the stimulus came out, everyone started coming out.”

Miklas said his biggest seller was paint, but people also purchased new fixtures to spruce up their bathrooms and kitchens, too.

“Ever since then it’s been steady,” he said. “I wouldn’t say it’s back to normal, but we’re seeing more and more come out again. The only thing that isn’t normal is the mask.”

Miklas said lately he has seen some new faces come into the store, even though it sometimes is difficult to identify the old ones under the masks people are still required to wear in shops. He said there is a big demand for salt for sidewalks. His store has it in stock, while other places can’t get their hands on it.

ICR Equipment Rental, Sales and Supplies, which has locations in Bellaire and St. Clairsville, also noticed an increase in people wanting to tackle projects inside their homes, said Chris Liebers, marketing manager for ICR.

“We saw a big rise in DIY. We sold a lot of paint and a lot of tool sets. We saw a lot of small equipment rentals for people doing landscaping that they didn’t have time to do when they were working,” he said.

Liebers noted the DIYers did not completely offset the lack of larger companies not coming in for equipment and rentals during Ohio’s stay at home order, but it was helpful.

“It was nice to see new customers coming in the door and getting that stuff,” he said. “We were happy to help and the best part was seeing the new faces.”

Liebers said ICR will continue to welcome the home-projects crowd, but is also looking forward to its larger customers getting back to work.

“With the spring season coming up we’re glad to offer help to DIYers and companies coming back,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Barnesville Do It Best Hardware and Rental on its Facebook page continues to offer its customers tips on how to tackle various projects. When the stay at home orders began last March, the store posted on its page that it planned to stay open seven days a week to continue serving its customers.

“Obviously I am a big proponent of shopping at local stores. At this time there are still many business owners who have had limits placed on their business and how they are allowed to operate. The longer these restrictions are in place the bigger the financial impact on them. Please do what you can to find a way to support them and encourage others to do so as well,” the shop stated last spring.

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