Peninsula home-improvement businesses, large and small, have fared better than most during the ongoing pandemic.
That has proved true for OB Hardware at 4871 Newport Ave., Dixieline Lumber and Home Centers at 3250 Sports Arena Blvd., and The Home Depot at 3555 Sports Arena Blvd.
The coronavirus, which has closed many other businesses since mid-March, has also forced many people, unemployed or not, back into their homes. That was described by Ted Teran, general manager of Dixieline in the Midway District, as a real boon for the local industry.
“It’s sad but true … We’ve seen a real uptick in business,” said Teran, speculating people at home more now were coming in to buy building materials. “The lumber side of the business never slowed down as people were still remodeling their homes, taking care of projects they normally wouldn’t have had time to do.”
But Teran added, “As people are going back to work, we could see it (business) trailing off a little bit.”
Mike DeEmedio, who has co-owned OB Hardware along with Michael Grimes since March 2019, agreed the pandemic proved to be a plus for business, not a minus.
“During the height of the first shutdown things got crazy,” said DeEmedio. Cautioning they’d just taken over a struggling business a year ago, DeEmedio added, “We were doing very well (this year), a lot better than we had around springtime last year.
“Our business picked up as people were doing a lot of renovations and improvements. We definitely saw an uptick. April and May were our busiest months.”
Since then, DeEmedio noted business has “settled back down a little,” but added, “We’re still up.”
Judging by frequent long lines outside The Home Depot in the Midway District, business – and demand – have been solid during the pandemic.
Contacted by the Peninsula Beacon, The Home Depot’s corporate headquarters in Atlanta said that, as a private entity, the company does not break out sales trends for individual stores. Rather, the popular hardware chain publicly reports business trends quarterly through earnings announcements.
But Home Depot spokesperson Margaret Watters Smith did comment on the national company’s overall performance earlier this year.
“During the first quarter, we saw strong sales across the store with all departments showing mid-single to double-digit comps,” she said. “As customers prepared to shelter-in-place, we saw particularly strong growth with certain categories like cleaning and safety and security, but we also saw growth above our expectations in other core categories.
“During the last three weeks of the quarter … we saw strong comps across most of our departments, as customers focused on a number of home improvement projects,” said Watters Smith.
DeEmidio of OB Hardware added the pandemic this spring was “a busy time in our garden department.” He pointed out that “people were at home sitting around and they all started a garden. Our gardening department went crazy.”
Acknowledging COVID has been a “tough spot” for the economy, DeEmidio noted that, for his neighborhood hardware store, “It’s been good for business.”
Dixieline’s Teran surmised that long lines elsewhere may have explained, in part, why more customers “who didn’t even know we existed” were starting to come in.
“Hopefully, we did a great job of servicing these new customers,” he said.
While admitting the pandemic “spike” will likely level at some point, Teran concluded, “I don’t see that happening for a couple more months at least. We obviously don’t want this thing (virus) to continue. But we’re ready to take care of the customers.”