Ed and Christine MacVicar of Avoca loaded their truck with four gallons of paint cans outside Lowe’s store in Wilkes-Barre Twp. on Saturday.
Christine MacVicar works at T.J. Maxx distribution center in Pittston Twp. Since it is temporarily shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, she is spending more time at home and she said it’s a good time to paint their kitchen.
“I miss work,” she said.
MacVicar is one of many people who have been flocking to home improvement retailers and hardware stores recently to complete projects since they are spending more time at home.
Home improvement retailers like Lowe’s and Home Depot and hardware stores like Main Hardware in Wilkes-Barre were classified as “essential businesses” because they carry building repair and maintenance materials.
Tom Cook, weekend manager at Main Hardware, said one reason the small business on South Main Street remains open is because it provides supplies to hospitals and nursing homes.
Many customers have been coming in looking for gloves and cleaning supplies and Main Hardware sold out of masks and Clorox wipes, he said.
Customers were even buying toilet paper that they couldn’t find at other stores, he said.
“A lot of people coming in are doing interior projects now. They’re doing a lot of painting,” Cook said. “A lot of people are coming in for concrete. People are doing cleanup around the yard and getting lawn bags for leaves.”
Hank Marks, 88, of Nanticoke, was thankful that Main Hardware is still open. He came in on Saturday to buy parts to fix his leaky bathroom faucet.
“After 88 years, I know how to fix everything,” Marks said. “I used to watch my father. He was a contractor and carpenter and he could fix plumbing and do electrical work. He could do everything.”
Marks’ father operated a construction business in the 1920s with 15 employees. When the Great Depression hit, Marks recalled his father lost everything that he invested in the stock market and he was forced to sell vacuum cleaners door to door. After Franklin D. Roosevelt became president, his father became a foreman thanks to his construction experience.
After seeing all the businesses shut down amid the coronavirus crisis and the stock market tanking, it brought back memories of the Great Depression for Marks.
“I hope it doesn’t hit again,” Marks said. “I am scared because I was born in 1932 and I lived through the Great Depression. We didn’t have two nickels to rub together and families were eating bread with lard. Could you imagine eating bread with lard? Well, that’s what families were surviving on.”
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