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Published: Tuesday, 2/4/2014 - Updated: 8 months ago

Winter supplies in hot demand

Snow shovels, rock salt, scrapers are flying off merchants’ shelves

BY JON CHAVEZ
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

As Toledo copes yet again with another blanket of white, merchants selling supplies to cope with winter are seeing a blizzard of green.

Snow shovels, rock salt, heating tape to keep pipes from freezing, snow blowers, scrapers, gloves, and other cold weather items have been in hot demand once more as local residents load up to fight yet another blizzard.

“They’ve been buying everything. I’m completely out of salt. I don’t have any salt left in my store,” Tim Oswald, co-owner of Lambertville Hardware in Michigan, said Tuesday afternoon.

The rush to beat the storm began Monday as consumers tried to purchase winter supplies before they were needed. Mr. Oswald said he had ordered a new supply of snow shovels, which sold briskly on Monday and Tuesday.

“I'm good on shovels. But rock salt I’m out of. I’m also out of ice melt and everything that melts snow and ice. I had heat tape, but I’m totally out of that now,” he added.

Fred’s Pro Hardware on Stickney Avenue in Toledo was one of the few left in town with rock salt for sale on Tuesday.

At the start of the day, Fred’s had 224 bags available. By mid-afternoon, it was down to 28 bags.

“All morning it’s been rocking and rolling. People have been buying salt, flashlights, batteries, shovels,” said sales clerk Bill Egan.

The store also sold three snow blowers and had about nine left. But Mr. Egan said he expected that number to dwindle after the storm.

Ace Hardware in Sylvania was out of rock salt by mid-morning, but another shipment was due to arrive Thursday, said manager Brian Yeager.

The store had also run out of heat tape, but Mr. Yeager found a dealer in Arkansas with an overshipment and bought more.

Snow shovels were less plentiful.

“One style — that’s all I have left,” Mr. Yeager said. “I’ve got 50 of them.”

Snow blowers also were gone, though Ace Hardware has ordered more, which Mr. Yeager hopes will arrive Thursday.

“We’re telling people, once the snow stops, dig yourself out so you can come in and buy a snow blower, then go home and clear yourself out,” he said.

Tim Janney of Janney’s Ace Hardware in Toledo thinks he could sell as many snow blowers as he could get.

But Janney’s, which specializes in snow blower sales and repairs, is finding the machines hard to come by.

“I’ve been getting lots of calls for snow blowers. I just received a few more from a dealer up north but we’ve already got names on some of those,” Mr. Janney said.

“I’ve got five coming in and two are big units that are spoken for. The other three are smaller but I’ve had people coming in inquiring about them. I doubt we’ll still have them by the end of the day,” Mr. Janney said.

Janney’s Ace usually sells snow blowers in the fall, but this year it couldn’t muster one sale from September through November.

Since Christmas, however, the store has sold 80 units.

“We had a lot of product carry-over from the last two years and it’s been a relief to get out from under that,” Mr. Janney said.

“The [replacement] parts are getting difficult to get,” he said. “We have a lot of things on back order.”

In January, the store had a three-week backlog of repair requests. “We finally got caught up but after this storm I’m sure people will use their machines and they’ll need fixing,” Mr. Janney said.

Contact Jon Chavez at: jchavez@theblade.com or 419-724-6128.



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