Residents take on home improvement projects during quarantine

COLUMBIANA – Some looking for a silver lining in the COVID-19 cloud hanging over their lives have found one in beautiful weather and time at home to complete outdoors projects.

With people at home practicing social distancing to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, local home improvement and hardware stores like Brown Lumber and Building Supply in Columbiana have been even busier than normal.

“There’s definitely a lot of people that are at home and catching up on whether it’s the honey-do list or things they’ve been putting off until they had the time to work on it,” said Andrew Brown with Brown Lumber.

The business has seen an influx of people purchasing supplies for projects ranging from fixing a deck or installing kitchen shelves to planting flowers and vegetables.

With the extra business, though, comes the need for precautions against the spread of the virus, Brown said.

Staff members at Brown Lumber keep counters disinfected, wear gloves if they work registers, and of course anyone with symptoms should stay at home. The business has contracted with a professional cleaning company to clean and disinfect restrooms and floors.

The construction industry is also a significant component of Brown’s business model.

After one of the wettest winters on record, there is a “massive” backlog in local construction, Brown said.

The construction industry is busy even though investors may be holding off on large developments for now until the pandemic’s effect on the economy can be gauged.

“Our business is lucky that we’re in this with blue-collar guys, guys working in trades, who aren’t going to stop working,” Brown said. “If there’s somebody to pay them to build a house or mow a lawn or run wire in a house, those guys are going to keep working as long as there’s demand and a paycheck to be had.

“Even with this virus, people can do their thing in one corner of a house and not be around anybody else.”

Brown Lumber is keeping up with demand for now, Andrew Brown said and predicted that the peak of construction season would be pushed back later than normal, into the summer months.

The business’ supply could be a problem if the pandemic conditions continue for an extended period of time because Brown Lumber, like similar enterprises, depends on products from across the country.

Andrew Brown said he remains optimistic.

“I’m 100-percent convinced we’re going to get through this,” he said. “It may take a little bit of patience for a few months as everything builds back up, but we’ll get through this.”