Home improvements spring ahead to keep people busy

Pandemic gives people time to finish housework

While our lives have changed drastically because of the coronavirus, one thing hasn’t: People have continued to carry out home-improvement projects pretty much the same as normal.

One only needs to look at the busy parking lots at Mahoning Valley home improvement stores to observe that home-improvement projects appear to be one way people are keeping busy while staying (mostly) at home.

Rich and Sheila Parker of Newton Township were at the Lowe’s in Howland last week buying a variety of things, including Mother’s Day gifts for Sheila and her mother.

But the couple has made a lot of other visits to home improvements stores in recent weeks, buying the materials to refinish a bathroom and bedroom in the basement.

Rich, a car hauler, has been laid off for six weeks, meaning the couple has had more time together but also the time to improve their home, he said.

“We are getting a lot of projects done,” Sheila said.

“I think that’s what a lot of people are doing. They have a lot of time on their hands, so they’re getting projects done.”

There have been a lot of stressors associated with being laid off, Rich said. “We just have to adapt,” Sheila said.

Kaleb Yoho, a salesman at Carter Lumber on Elm Road in Cortland, said contractors have told him they are trying to do outside projects for their customers where possible to limit face-to-face contact.

“We’ve sold a ton of decks the past month, a lot of new houses going right now,” he said. “It’s been a very, very good year for us so far.”

He said there has been a larger demand for work than there are contractors available this year. “It’s a good time to be in the construction trades,” especially in remodeling, he said.

He’s also talked to people who are building or upgrading something for themselves because he or she is out of work.

“One guy built a deck for his mom and dad because he’s off work right now,” Yoho said. “You’re definitely seeing those honey-do lists getting finished finally,” he said.

Spring is typically a strong time of year for decks, houses, garages and additions,” he said. “It’s been a typical good spring so far,” he said.

Mark Emery of Boardman said he and his wife, Dana, had been talking about putting a deck on their home for a while.

But when his work with the Army slowed down, he said he realized this was the time to build it. Emery represents the Army during funerals for deceased military members, but most funerals are much smaller because of social distancing rules, he said.

The home improvement stores where he shops have been busy. In fact, he said he believes the supply of lumber has gone down because he could not get all the lumber he needed.

“That’s why it’s not done yet,” he said as he stood near the deck, which some friends helped construct.

He said he saw a home improvement store in the Akron area that had about 80 people in line outside waiting to enter.

A Home Depot spokesperson responded by saying the company could not “share sales figures or trends as we are just a couple weeks away from our quarterly earnings report.” There was no reply from the two other companies.



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