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News >  Spokane

Stuck at home during pandemic, many shut-ins use time to improve it with DIY projects

UPDATED: Tue., April 28, 2020

Gary Peters, owner of Peter's Hardware pauses while stocking shelves to talk about how business has been up since the onset of Covid-19 on Tuesday, April 28, 2020, at Peter's Hardware in Spokane Valley, Wash. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Gary Peters, owner of Peter's Hardware pauses while stocking shelves to talk about how business has been up since the onset of Covid-19 on Tuesday, April 28, 2020, at Peter's Hardware in Spokane Valley, Wash. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

Spokane resident Jon Tettleton had been planning to build a new shed on his property since last summer but didn’t have time to embark on the project.

Then the statewide coronavirus-induced stay-home order went into effect, providing an opportunity for Tettleton, a general contractor and woodworker, to expand the shed into a studio where his wife can read or do arts and crafts.

Tettleton, who operates Old Hat Workshop, has been working on the do-it-yourself project for the past two weekends. He estimates the project will be done by the end of May.

“It just took on new life and now it’s huge,” Tettleton said about the project. “I wasn’t so rushed to get stuff done, so I was able to be putting more time into planning it.”

Tettleton is among many residents diving into DIY home improvement projects during the stay-home order. As a result, local hardware and home improvement stores – which are deemed essential businesses under the order – are experiencing a surge in demand for tools and supplies.

The General Store, whose owners also operate Argonne Ace Hardware in Spokane Valley, is seeing an “unprecedented” rise in sales at both stores, compared to the same time last year, said general manager Mark McKee.

Sales are up 90% this month at Argonne Ace Hardware, McKee said: “We’ve had record day after record day.”

McKee attributes the additional foot traffic at Argonne Ace Hardware, in part, to customers not wanting to wait in line to enter Home Depot.

Home Depot has limited the number of customers in its stores to 100 at a time and is requesting additional customers wait in line outside to maintain social distancing measures.

Tettleton said purchasing building supplies at Home Depot was mostly a seamless experience, but did notice “very long lines” and navigating the parking lot with a trailer was somewhat of a challenge.

The most in-demand items at The General Store and Argonne Ace Hardware are power tools, McKee said, adding that shipments coming from the ACE Hardware distribution center in Moxee, in Yakima County, have doubled in size.

More than home improvement products are flying off the shelves at The General Store. Customers are buying clothing, sporting goods and a variety of other items, he added.

“They are buying everything. Our average transactions jumped about $10 a transaction, so that’s pretty significant,” McKee said. “It’s a huge windfall for us, that’s for sure … (customer demand) keeps going on and on, and I don’t see an end in sight.”

At Peters Hardware in Spokane Valley, customers are primarily shopping for paint, garden supplies and products to upgrade sprinkler systems, owner Gary Peters said.

“There’s been quite a bit of that kind of stuff going on for several weeks,” Peters said.

“There has been a lot of regulars (visiting the store) that suddenly have extra time on their hands with some new customers mixed in there, too.”

Sales have remained steady for DIY products at Ziggy’s Home Improvement, which operates six retail stores in Washington and Idaho.

“People are buying fencing and decking (materials),” said company president Karl Ziegler. “Paint has been a big thing. Everybody seems to be painting all their rooms.”

It’s a similar situation at the Spokane Valley Ace Hardware on Sprague Avenue.

The store is seeing a remarkable increase in customer demand for DIY products, including paint, tools and plumbing products, said Justin Schouten, the store’s operations manager.

Sales for home and garden supplies during the pandemic have exceeded that of last year, he said.

“Everybody now has the time to do projects they say they having been wanting to do, so they are keeping us busy,” Schouten said.

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