Corridor hardware stores stock up

Managers anticipate run on bright colors, lawn-maintenance supplies after winter

Published: March 23 2014 | 5:00 am - Updated: 1 April 2014 | 10:02 am in

After the ninth coldest winter in Iowa history, local hardware stores — like their customers — were eager for spring’s arrival.

“We have our spring stock coming in,” said Phil Cronin, store manager of Vernon Village True Value in Cedar Rapids. “We have pallets of potting soil and fertilizer ready to be unloaded.”

For many of Cronin’s customers, the first order of business will be tending to yards that were covered in snow and ice all winter. Cedar Rapids saw 36.8 inches of snow through the end of February, the 22nd-snowiest winter in Iowa in 127 years.

“People will be trying to recover from the tough winter,” Cronin said. “Ice melt can take a toll on lawns. Grass seed and fertilizer programs will be important this year.”

Sue Snitker, store manager at O’Donnell Ace Hardware in Cedar Rapids, also expects a big rush on lawn care products as warmer weather creeps back.

“Seed and fertilizer will start flying out of here as soon as all the snow is gone,” she predicted.

Snitker anticipated that many of her customers also will be seeking parts and materials to complete repairs on water pipes and outdoor water spigots ravaged by record cold temperatures.

“There were a lot of quick fixes during the cold winter,” she said. “People will be coming back now that they can work on them better.”

Another big area of repair, according to Snitker, will be patching of driveways. She expected an increased demand for concrete filler and patching material once the frost is out of the ground.

People who don’t know where to begin with their spring projects may want to sign up for Home Depot’s garden club, suggested Chris Plowman, specialty assistant store manager for Home Depot in Cedar Rapids.

Garden club members will receive monthly to-do lists for lawn and garden maintenance specific to their region.

To-dos for late March in Iowa include lawn aeration, overseeding and lawn mower maintenance.

“We do spring tuneups for lawn mowers and offer tool and equipment rental,” Plowman added.

Live plants should be arriving in stores by late March if the weather cooperates.

This spring, Home Depot will stock plants — from local growers — that thrive in this region’s plant hardiness zone. The regional focus will prove beneficial in the event of another dry summer.

“Customers can select native and drought-tolerant plants that they won’t have to water as much,” Plowman said.

A summer drought may not be top of mind for many people at this point, according to Vernon Village’s Cronin. “No one is really thinking about that now,” he said. “They are nervous about all the snow and ice we’ve had and whether there will be flooding.”

True Value also stocks sump pumps, shop vacs and carpet-drying fans.

As a preventive measure, O’Donnell Snitker suggested customers consider gutter extensions to direct water away from foundations.

Another worry are the reports of the emerald ash borer spreading in Iowa. Cronin said True Value carries some products that help to protect ash trees if they are applied before infestation occurs.

And as the exterior painting doesn’t get underway until the outdoor air temperature remains above 35 degrees, Snitker said paint sales already are picking up at her store.

“I think it will be a great big year for paint,” she said, speculating customers will want to add color to both their outdoor and indoor spaces.

“Any time we have a rough winter, people want to add bright, happy colors.”

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