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Published: Thursday, 7/21/2011 - Updated: 3 years ago

Heat ignites demand for ways to stay cool

Local stores out of stock or low on air conditioners

BY SHEENA HARRISON
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
Kaylene Palmer of Adrian guides a cart with two portable air conditioners and her sons, Austin, 9, and Ian, 7, out of Home Depot on Airport Highway. many area stores have sold out of such units. Kaylene Palmer of Adrian guides a cart with two portable air conditioners and her sons, Austin, 9, and Ian, 7, out of Home Depot on Airport Highway. many area stores have sold out of such units.
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Need an air conditioner to stay cool in this heat wave? You could have trouble finding one.

With temperatures expected to be more than 100 degrees -- and feel even hotter -- Thursday in the Toledo area, retailers say air conditioners have become a hot commodity, leaving many local stores with depleted supplies.

The Andersons Inc. sold out of air conditioners a few days ago at its stores in Toledo and Maumee, and doesn't expect to restock them. Company spokesman Debra Crow said the Maumee company typically stocks air conditioners in advance of the season and noted it's difficult to predict summer weather patterns that drive sales.

"As the temperatures began to rise, they sold at a pretty brisk pace," said Ms. Crow, who said The Andersons stores still have fans in stock.

It's a similar situation at Menard's in Oregon, which has sold out of portable air conditioners that can be wheeled from room to room and cost $250 to $400.

Anna Mominee, appliance manager at the store, said a shipment of 20 air conditioners that came in Friday sold out by Saturday afternoon. That was after a previous shipment of portable units ran out in June.

Menard's still has a supply of window air conditioners, priced from $149 to $499.

But Ms. Mominee said officials expect the store will run out if near-record high temperatures persist in the area.

"It's tough because they're seasonal items, so we only order so much per year," she said.

Emma Collins of Toledo checks a fan at Home Depot with assistant manager Doug Schlachter. She said her air conditioning is out. Emma Collins of Toledo checks a fan at Home Depot with assistant manager Doug Schlachter. She said her air conditioning is out.
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Lowe's in Sylvania Township has been able to pull additional stock from one of the retail chain's "command centers," which supply Lowe's stores with inventory as air conditioner supplies have run low, store manager Scott Bauerschmidt said.

Inventory at the store was low Wednesday for some air conditioners, which start at around $150. Customers also have sought out ceiling fans, insulation, and energy-efficient windows in an effort to cool their homes, Mr. Bauerschmidt said.

"These products have been difficult to keep in stock," he said.

At Home Depot in Toledo, Manager Shane Segur said the company's Atlanta headquarters has been making frequent air conditioner shipments to maintain stock at Midwest stores. He said the local store has received new shipments about every other day for the past week, a trend he expects could continue through this weekend.

"We've been replenishing as best as we can to keep up with demand," Mr. Segur said.

Kevin Oswald, owner of Lambertville Do-It-Best Hardware in Michigan, does not sell air conditioners, but said sales of fans have increased during the last few weeks. Many customers hope to save on energy costs, he said, by turning up their thermostats and using fans to circulate air through their homes.

"It's a purchase people don't buy unless they absolutely have to have it," Mr. Oswald said of how recent temperatures have driven sales of box, pedestal, and high-output fans.

Air conditioner repair work also has increased for Action Heating and Air Conditioning of Toledo. Co-owner Michael Williams said the company has been receiving 75 to 125 repair calls per day during the recent heat wave, compared with 35 to 75 calls a day on cooler summer days.

"When these kind of conditions hit, it brings in a wave of emergency work," Mr. Williams said.

With eight employees fielding those requests, Mr. Williams said his staff has been working nights and weekends to answer calls within 24 hours. The heat wave has brought a welcome boost in business for the company, he said.

"We hope it stays hot all summer long," Mr. Williams said.

Contact Sheena Harrison at: sharrison@theblade.com or 419-724-6103.



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