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What you need to know for 01/20/2018

For hardware stores, ‘green means green’

For hardware stores, ‘green means green’

Garry Robinson is looking forward to green grass, green leaves and green layers in his cash register
For hardware stores, ‘green means green’
Garry Robinson, owner of Robinson Hardware on Western Avenue in Albany, fixes a window screen on Thursday.
Photographer: Patrick Dodson

Garry Robinson is looking forward to green grass, green leaves and green layers in his cash register.

Robinson, who owns Robinson’s Hardware on Western Avenue in Guilderland, expects warmer temperatures will inspire people to improve homes and yards — and begin a rush to hardware and home improvement stores.

“As crazy as it sounds, all our fertilizer and topsoil is in — we had 18 pallets come in this morning,” Robinson said last week.

Lawn mowers are already in place, parked in spots once occupied by snowblowers. But grass trims won’t be necessary for another six or seven weeks. People are now thinking about paint and window repair projects.

“We do a big paint business and I’ve already had one person buy paint to do some prep work inside,” Robinson said.

Another customer dropped off 12 screen windows that needed repairs. Robinson said the pieces were ripped or sun-damaged during late fall and winter. “People who are on their best game are doing this now,” he said, adding that many don’t discover tears in screens until the first warm weeks of spring.

Robinson says early springs usually mean early sales. This year’s lingering winter, which has kept cold temperatures in the air and cushions of frosted snow on the ground, have kept some shoppers out of his store.

“Springtime is our busiest time,” Robinson said. “Green means green for our business. If it’s green outside, it’s green in here. This year, it’s going to come fast and furious, when it comes. That means you’re going to run out of things.”

Jon Phillips, president of the six-store Phillips Hardware chain in the Capital Region, expects plenty of open shed and garage doors when spring warmups begin.

“You’ve got your shovel, your kids’ skis, winter gear in the garage and all of a sudden you want to get your rake and broom, move your kids’ baseball stuff and other spring sports stuff into the garage,” he said.

Once the snow is gone, it might still be too cold to begin lawn and garden projects. That’s why Phillips thinks shed and garage reshuffles for spring and summer are such easy tasks.

“You don’t want to be working through May and June,” Phillips said. “All of a sudden, you feel like you’re missing half the summer.”

Another early season job will be washing the car in the driveway. Hooking up a garden hose and washing off the last of the winter road salt, Phillips believes, are chores that tell people spring has finally arrived.

“I think it’s the feeling of being outside,” he said. “If you have kids, sometimes the kids like to help when you’re cleaning the car.”

And while people will consider plenty of lawn and garden projects during May and June, Phillips said people with large trees will trim branches now, before buds appear. They’ll use clippers and extension poles.

“It’s easier to trim them with nothing on them,” Phillips said. “They’re easier to haul with nothing on them.”

Scott Baker, who owns Baker Contracting in Schenectady, expects he’ll be working on windows during the first weeks of spring. “A lot of people feel they can’t do the jobs over the winter,” he said. “They deal with the cold all winter and feel spring is the time to do them. Especially winters like this when winter was really cold.”

People will also consider kitchen and bathroom remodeling projects. Baker said people have been watching shows on the “DIY Network” and have picked up remodeling ideas.

“We start getting a larger volume of calls in the spring,” Baker said. “We really didn’t slow down all that much. Now I see the volume picking up … but we’ve seen more winter calls this year than normal.”

At Crescent Ace Hardware Store on Lapp Road in Clifton Park, owner John Abbale said bags of soil are on March shopping lists. He believes yard cleanups top job lists when late March and early April come.

“Everyone’s waiting for the snow to melt,” Abbale said. “They want to rake up and clean up. They’re getting the right garden tools and lawn and leaf bags. They all have to be thought about.”

Like Robinson and Phillips, Abbale believes people are going to rush to sheds and garages once winter has ended.

“The tougher the winter, the more anxious people become,” he said. “They’ll be champing at the bit, waiting for the first 50-degree days. They’ll feel like 80 degrees after this winter.”

When people feel summer is in the air, they’ll want charcoal smoke in the air, too. That’s why Crescent has about a dozen charcoal and gas grills on display in mid-March.

Bob Winston, president of Woodlawn Hardware on State Street in Schenectady, also believes in the spring rush. “They’ve been stuck inside for six months now,” he said of the weekend workforce that will soon roll wheelbarrows and hook up garden hoses.

Billy DeOrazio, sales manager at Bellevue Builders Supply in Schenectady, said yard cleanups will be one job. He thinks fertilizing the green will be pushed back a few weeks this year, as March moves into April.

“There’s a lot of frost in the ground,” he said. “We’re going to need some good, strong sunshine for this to finally break.”

Clearing and repairing decks will be another job. DeOrazio said heavy snows could have broken railings; people will be cleaning up decks and preparing for spring and summer barbecues. Other jobs may involve gutter repairs. “The weight of the ice — if people don’t use their roof rakes, ice will build up in the gutters and bend them or damage them,” DeOrazio said.

They won’t be buying patio furniture — at least, not right away.

“When the flyers come out,” DeOrazio said. “People wait for the sales and those are generally sale items.”

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