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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

‘We are sold out’: Retailers see surge in demand for ACs, fans, pool gear amid heatwave

Jeff Philips talks to his wife on the phone Monday about purchasing a fan at The General Store in Spokane. Local retailers are seeing huge demand for air conditioners, fans and water equipment amid record-breaking heat.  (Kathy Plonka/The Spokesman-Review)

Local retailers were experiencing a surge in demand Monday for air conditioners, household fans and pool supplies as residents seek relief from a historic heat wave in Spokane.

The General Store, at 2424 N. Division St., received a new shipment of air conditioners Friday as temperatures began to climb. The store was sold out by Saturday, said general manager Mark McKee.

“We try to frontload at beginning of every season, so when a (weather) event occurs, we are ready for it,” McKee said. “What was different about this year is the heat came very early and it’s sustained. We might have eight or nine days of 100-degree-plus (temperatures) and that’s unheard of.”

Household fans and anything “water related,” such as pool floats, supplies and kayaks have also been flying off the shelves, McKee said.

“We got a fresh load of kayaks in last Thursday that are selling really fast,” McKee said.

The General Store, which also operates the Argonne Ace Hardware in Spokane Valley, will likely have more household fans in stock Tuesday. The store is hoping to receive another shipment of air conditioners Friday, depending upon suppliers, McKee said.

A similar situation was unfolding at River Ridge Hardware at 2803 W. Garland Ave.

The store quickly sold out of more than 20 air conditioners as well as several fans, personal water misters, and plastic and inflatable pools, owner Larry Myers said.

“A lot of people are buying small pools for their dogs or kids,” Myers said. “Our store manager ordered 30 pools. We had a stack of them a week and a half to two weeks ago. Those are all gone.”

Myers anticipates getting more air conditioners back in stock. In the meantime, customers currently shopping around might have to get creative or spend more money to snag an air conditioning unit, he said.

Fred’s Appliance received numerous phone calls from customers inquiring if the store has air conditioners in stock, said Zach LaVelle, salesman at Fred’s Appliance.

“We are sold out,” LaVelle said.

There’s been a nationwide shortage of appliances during the pandemic, fueled in part by supply chain disruptions and increased demand. That’s also happening with air conditioning units, he said.

“You saw it with freezers, dryers and, now, air conditioners,” he said. “We are getting things in as quickly as we can.”

A rise in demand for bags of ice and water has prompted some grocery stores to implement purchase limits to ensure adequate supply for customers.

Although it varies by location, most Safeway and Albertsons stores have a limit of 10 bags of ice per customer, Tairsa Worman, spokeswoman for Safeway and Albertsons said in an email.

Fred Meyer has placed a limit of two per customer for ice, water and ice cream novelties, Jeffery Temple, spokesman for Fred Meyer, said in an email.

“We have large supplies in route and we hope to be able to lift limits soon,” Temple said.