Home Projects Soaring as Residents Stay Put

With nowhere to go, homeowners in the area are turning their attention to home improvement projects during the coronavirus pandemic.

Curtis Lemieux, owner of Econo Lumber in Prince Albert, acknowledged there’s been a significant jump in business since March.

“There’s probably no excuses for the honey-do list now. If there’s things to be done, people are social distancing and not doing as much social activity, so the walk-in traffic for renovations is really, really busy,” Lemieux said.

Econo Lumber is providing supplies for plenty of outdoor projects such as decks and fences but Lemieux said there’s a lot of activity in the kitchen cupboard department. Lemieux specified paint and stain are two items flying off shelves.

Considered an essential business, Econo Lumber has been open throughout the spring with extra safety measures in place, providing the community with an opportunity to spend more time on projects they may have put off.

Colleen McRae, co-owner of M&M Building Supplies, saw a spring season unlike any other as the business is forced to balance restricted availability with unprecedented demand.

“It’s been very challenging. I don’t even know how to put it into words. You just go customer by customer and day by day,” McRae said.

For a time, M&M’s doors were closed to the public, directing all business online and over the phone. They are now allowing one customer at a time into the building, but McRae acknowledged it’s difficult having a lineup forming outside the door while the phone continues to ring inside.

M&M saw significant interior paint sales while there was still snow on the ground, but as the weather has turned, there has been a spike in sales of decks and fences.

While the logistics necessitated by the pandemic create their own unique challenges, McRae said she’s happy to be working and to keep her staff busy and safe.

Similar to M&M, staff at the local Co-op Home Centre had to adapt their ways of doing business while meeting increased demand. Director of Home and Building Solutions Garry Poelzer explained while doors have remained open, there’s been an added emphasis on curbside or front door delivery to customers.

In addition to home items like paint and building materials, the Co-op saw major growth in all things related to lawn and garden.

“Outdoor living, backyard, patio furniture, gazebos, that kind of stuff is just flying out of here,” Poelzer said, adding other locations in the region are experiencing the same thing.

Local green thumbs have even purchased some common items right out of stock. Poelzer said they’ve had restrictions and unavailability on potting soils and fertilizers in recent weeks.

“Who would have ever thought you wouldn’t be able to get dirt?” he said.