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Heavy hitters stand up for hardware

Leaders promote home improvement stores as “essential” retail.

BY HBSDealer Staff

In a cautious atmosphere where “non-essential” retailers operate under a cloud of possible coronavirus-induced closure, an octet of industry leaders have a message for state and local authorities: “Hardware stores are essential.”

The CEO’s of Orgill, Do it Best, Ace and True Value – as well as Distribution America, Pro Group and Canada’s Home Hardware Stores – all signed an open letter from the North American Retail Hardware Association promoting the importance of the continued operation of hardware stores.

[For more coronavirus coverage, see: The NLBMDA issues statement; and Pro Dealers proceed cautiously.]

The hardware- and distribution-industry signatories urged public officials ”to consider locally owned home improvement stores among those retail operations determined to be ‘essential’ and allow these business owners the option to stay open as a public service.”

They pointed to several reasons supporting their position. [Read the full statement here.]

“These stores provide much-needed services to individuals and contractors, providing them with the products and support required to keep their homes and communities safe, secure and functioning,” the letter states.

Signatories of the NRHA statement.

Cleaning supplies, batteries, storage containers and tools were hardware staples specifically mentioned in the statement.  Additionally, hardware stores are for many communities the only outlet for these kind of essentials.

“It is also important to note that locally owned home improvement stores have a proven track record of providing essential supplies and support to communities in past emergency situations, such as hurricanes, floods, fires and civil unrest,” the letter states.

The statement, dated March 16, also called on all business owners to follow all community health guidelines “and ensure that their employees and customers remain safe.”

Examples of aggressive state mandates emerged Monday. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf called on nonessential businesses in the state to close for two weeks. In Pennsylvania, home repair/hardware was specifically listed among essential services and sectors. New Jersey’s governor similarly called for the closure of all non-essential, retail, recreational and entertainment businesses after 8 p.m.

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Clarification: The above article was updated to include that Pennsylvania deems home repair/hardware as an “essential” service.

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