ORLANDO, Fla. – With the COVID-19 pandemic still underway, storm supply shopping might look a bit different this hurricane season.
While many are trying to limit time spent outside their home, Ace Hardware stores are offering a few alternative ways for customers to safely shop for supplies while building their hurricane kits.
President of Central Florida Ace Dealers Cade Carter said since each Ace is locally owned and operated, hours and shopping options may vary based on where you live, but that every Ace is doing its best to accommodate customers as they move from one stressful time to another.
[DOWNLOAD: News 6 Hurricane Preparedness Checklist]
Typically, hardware stores see a lot of traffic in the weeks leading up to hurricane season, but Carter said that’s when things get stressful since everyone is looking to purchase a lot of the same supplies at the same time.
He suggests knocking storm supply shopping out early to avoid the crowds that will inevitably flock to stores once a storm is in the forecast.
For shoppers trying not to go in public due to the ongoing pandemic, Carter said most of your shopping experience can be done online or over the phone.
“Simply call and we'll spend some time on the phone with you. We'll help you get what you need on the phone. We can do your transaction on the phone and then take it out to your car when you pull up,” Carter said.
He said no matter where you live within Central Florida, you likely have an Ace Hardware stores within five miles of you.
Carter said shopping for hurricane supplies looks different for every Floridian based on their individual needs and that Ace employees are prepared for that, ready and willing to help you build a kit from scratch based on what best suits you and your family.
The easiest way to get your storm kit built, he said, is head to an Ace store and talk directly to an employee about what you have and what you still need.
“What we’re going to do is we’re going to ask you questions, and we’re going to see what your needs are because we don’t want to sell you things you don’t need. You may already have batteries, you may already have a flashlight, you may have a weather radio. You may have a generator already and you may need just help hooking that up and (not) know what chords to use,” Carter said. “And so we’re going to ask you your needs and we’re going to go through and make sure that you have everything.”
State officials are recommending Floridians add masks to their list of storm supplies this year in light of the coronavirus pandemic. Carter said while masks, hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies have been difficult to come across in many stores recently, many Aces are stocked up with those much-needed supplies.
According to Carter, you can always call ahead to ask about their inventory levels.
Carter said Ace employees can also help walk you through buying what you need to prepare your home for a storm, whether that’s plywood or other parts needed to make storm shutters, and they’ll do their best to help you find the products that work best for your budget.
Carter said Ace stores do their best to serve their communities and be of help as best they can, whether it’s during a pandemic or bad weather.
He said shopping at Ace – sooner rather than later to beat the crowds-- not only helps Floridians better prepare for possible hurricanes but also helps their local Ace owner continue to support their families and employees.
Carter said he’s grateful for the community’s support, especially during the pandemic, which has left countless Floridians without work.
“I would like to thank our local communities for trusting us and choosing us, your local Ace Hardware store, to do business with and it really does go full circle when you shop local. It's so much more than you're buying a screwdriver or buying a gallon of paint, you're really helping your communities out and so many of these local stores and local owners do so much more within the communities than most people know about and it's as simple as just having a conversation with the owner or the staff,” Carter said. “And it's really incredible what these people are doing for their communities and things and so you should feel really good when you go in and shop, you know, at your local Ace Hardware store. It's so much more than just buying a product.”
Hurricane season begins June 1 and lasts through Nov. 30. Visit ClickOrlando.com/Hurricane for everything you need to prepare for a storm.