June 14, 2006 in Business

Hardware stores face the deluge

By The Spokesman-Review

The soggy spring weather is sending a flood of people to local hardware stores where they’re snatching up tarps, roofing patch and other defenses against the water.

At Miller’s Hardware Inc. there has been increased demand for a range of products to deal with excess water, said Jim Pernsteiner, a hardware salesman at the south Spokane store.

In the past few weeks, Miller’s Hardware has sold more rain gutters and downspouts than usual, along with a healthy smattering of plastic tarps, said Pernsteiner. Plus, “we’re having increased demand for moss-removal products,” he said.

Deer Park Ace Hardware is selling more fungus and mildew-killing products this spring, said Craig Gilberts, a floor supervisor. He noted that tarps are currently hot sellers, along with roof patch and fill and gravel — which people are using to level out emerging holes.

“They’re just trying to fill them in so they don’t have puddles around,” he explained.

Sump pumps, which remove water from basements, were top sellers in some stores but not in Deer Park.

“We haven’t seen a whole lot of demand for sump pumps, because most people out here already have them,” Gilberts said.

However, The Home Depot on East Sprague, in Spokane Valley, has experienced a surge in submersible sump pump sales, said Terry Stroud, the store’s assistant manager.

Customers are also buying tube sand and arranging the tubes to divert water flows, he said, adding that roof patch and corrugated drain pipe are also in top demand.

When the weather cleared on Monday, customers searched The Home Depot for parts to finish outdoor projects that had been interrupted by the rain and for plumbing supplies to protect from more water, Stroud said.

While people are buying more of some merchandise, they are also purchasing less of other items. Outdoor paint and stain is sitting longer than usual for this time of year, Stroud said.

Gilberts, of Ace Hardware, said plant sales are typically brisk in June, but this year are starting and stopping in sync with the weather.

At Miller’s Hardware, Pernsteiner said customers have all but ignored lawn and garden weed killer because there hasn’t been enough of a gap between storms for products that require a dry period after application.

As the rains recede, he expects a run on slug bait, as people try to get rid of the slimy creatures that thrive on wet weather.

“We’re going to see more of that product flying out the doors in the next couple weeks.”

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