REGION — Hardware stores locally saw an increase in demand for some items last year because of the coronavirus pandemic and some are preparing for similar trends this year.

Local hardware stores were impacted by the coronavirus pandemic last year. Empty and less-full spaces in the seed rack at Farmington Farmers Union on Thursday, April 1, may point to continued interest in raising one’s own food. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

“Farmington Farmers Union saw a big increase in our seed, soils, baby chicks, grain and fencing supplies,” General Manager Logan Nutting wrote in an email Thursday, April 1. “For the most part we did okay in keeping up with demand but some items such as canning supplies and fencing were hard to come by.”

Guild’s Country Hardware in Livermore also saw a big increase.

“As far as gardening supplies vegetable seeds was the most wanted,” owner Kelly Mercier wrote in an email Saturday, April 3. “Seedlings also were very much wanted. Fortunately our supplier, Shaky Barn Farms saw this coming and did a wonderful job keeping us supplied.

“As far as general items the most popular was paint,” she wrote.

Guild’s was able to supply a fair amount of requests last year.

“We were fortunate enough to be able to receive a second shipment of some vegetable seeds,” Mercier continued. “This helped but we still ran short. In general getting inventory was difficult.”

Wilton Hardware saw more interest, too. The store is small enough to make do with what it had, manager Mark Sterry said Thursday, April 1.

“We picked up local customers who have become regulars,” he said.

Changes have been made at some hardware stores in response to last year’s sales.

“We have taken to doing our buying for each season ahead of time,” Nutting wrote. “This seems to work in most regards but we are seeing shortages in seed and fencing as well as still not having canning supplies.”

“We increased our seed order and we’ve been able to get most of it, a few items are still on backorder,” Mercier wrote. “We are trying to keep a good stock of soils and all the necessary items but it is still very difficult to receive stock. When things get as disrupted as they did it takes a long time for everything to recover. Sometimes we forget it isn’t just Maine it is worldwide.”

Wilton Hardware is expanding next door.

“It was time to move the paint room,” Sterry said. There will be no changes in inventory, he added.

For some stores, this year has started out a bit like last year.

At Guild’s, customers wants seem to be about the same: seeds, paint and warm days!!

“As far as the vegetable seed buying, this year the early birds are our regulars,” Mercier wrote. “They don’t want to miss out like last year. Last year the early birds were all new to gardening. With things starting to relax a bit, I don’t know if we will see many of the newer gardeners this year.”

Interest is still there, Sterry said.

“The panic side is not there like it was last year,” he noted.

“As far as what our customers are after, it is a lot like last year,” Nutting wrote. “People are raising more chickens, pigs, and cows. And most are doing a garden again.”


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