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Pools in high demand, low supply

A COVID-19 summer

Dave Woloschak, left, and Shane Mason install an above-ground swimming pool in the backyard of a house on Fairview Street in Howland Friday morning. Mason is back installing pools for Blue Dolphin Pools and Spas after COVID-19 put installs on hold.

WARREN — With summer in full swing and festivals, concerts and other events canceled because of COVID-19, many families are looking to make a splash at home — but the supply of swimming pools is drying up.

“They want that swimming pool in their back yard, and we can’t sell it to them,” said Cindy Duncan, owner of Blue Dolphin Pools and Spas Ltd. on North Road in Warren.

She said no pools are available to purchase from her distributors, which were closed for months because of COVID-19. Now, as distributors re-open, their production is stalled because the parts they need also weren’t being produced during that time. One above-ground pool manufacturer told Duncan it is taking orders for 2021.

“I don’t think anybody else saw this coming,” Duncan said. If retailers had known, they would have ordered stock months ago.

She said although she can get pool chemicals, things such as pool covers, liners and ladders are all out of stock. Hot tubs, too, are running behind because needed components weren’t being manufactured.

Still, homeowners are looking to buy pools at an accelerated rate. Duncan is fielding upward of 12 calls per day from customers looking to purchase.

In Howland, zoning inspector Dan Morgan received 12 swimming pool permit applications between January and June 10.

Though a relatively low number, that’s double the number of pool permits for the same time frame last year.

Austintown Zoning Inspector Darren Crivelli said the township has seen a noticeable increase in applications for above-ground pools from previous years, and also has received more applications for decks and porches.

Other townships, such as Liberty, have not seen a noticeable increase in permit applications.

Sam Geris, a salesman at Austintown Pools and Spa on North Canfield Niles Road, attributed an increase in pool sales to summer activities being closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic and people staying at or near home.

“People normally go on vacation. A lot of public pools are closed. There’s nothing really better than just getting your own pool,” Geris said.

He said Austintown Pools, which services most of northeast Ohio, has put in about 30 above-ground pools this year, and many more are waiting to be installed.

Duncan said COVID-19 also pushed back installs, with state rules preventing construction before May 4. Duncan said a customer drove to Tennessee to buy a pool and called her to get it installed, but her installer is backed up trying to complete the orders she was able to fill before her stock ran out.

In Poland, B.Y. Pools and Spas Inc. is also busier than ever, according to manager Lexa Shaffer.

“What we had, we sold, and we’re just waiting for them to be installed,” Shaffer said. “People are home and want to have something to do, and it’s hot, and they want to swim.”

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