By Monique Tamminga/Special to The News
During the peak of the pandemic, Triple Tree Nursery was one of the only places people could find solace in soil and seeds.
“We were deemed an essential service from the very beginning because of the food aspect of our business and for mental health,” said Triple Tree’s Dayton van der Pauw.
“It has been a wild ride and very stressful at times. We had beautiful weather in April, and it was a mad rush for everything from seeds to plants to getting vegetable gardens ready,” said van der Pauw.
Triple Tree has been in the community for 50 years but has never faced anything this challenging.
They had much fewer staff and new rules to implement like limiting the amount of people in the garden centre, he said.
With fewer staff, Triple Tree had to reduce hours like so many other essential businesses. Van der Pauw had to hire security to handle the number of people coming in.
“We also saw the phenomenon of seed hoarding.”
On top of that, all garden centres face huge shortages because a lot of their plants come from Central America and just weren’t grown this year or shipped.
“The supply chain has been reduced a lot this year. We just haven’t been able to stock what we are used to.”
The mad rush hasn’t really stopped since the pandemic started, with so many people turning their backyards into relaxing getaways and planting edible gardens, he said.
“Gardening is therapeutic and good for mental health. People were stuck inside for so long,” he said. “I’m happy we can help people find some peace in planting.”
Most businesses have suffered because of COVID-19, but there are some businesses that have been busier because of the pandemic.
Garden centres, liquor stores, grocery outlets, and recreational businesses like bike shops, RV and boat sales, and sport and activity stores like Canadian Tire for their trampolines, above ground pools and camping gear.
Over at Haney Appliance & Sound, they couldn’t keep upright freezers in stock.
“In April and May, we sold more freezers than all of last year,” said Greg Sheppard.
It was unlike anything seen before.
“We would get a shipment of 12 freezers in, and they would be gone that day,” said Sheppard, a Haney Appliance & Sound owner.
The reason for the freezer frenzy was because people didn’t know if there was going to be food shortages, said Sheppard.
The pandemic has forced all of us to stay at home a lot more, some working from home. On top of that, most vacations were cancelled.
This has led a lot of people to upgrade their homes and backyards.
Fuller Watson Brandsource is the longest running business in Maple Ridge with nearly 100 years in the furniture business. Even with that longevity, it has never faced a global pandemic.
“People are staying home a lot more, so they are upgrading their furniture and their mattresses,” said Justin Fuller.
“We’ve found that people are shopping our online store a lot more and making an effort to support local, which is great.”
Haney Builders, which has been in business in Maple Ridge for 80 years, saw a huge uptick in retail sales with a lot of DIY projects from people who were stuck at home instead of working.
In the beginning of the pandemic, they were also selling out of Personal Protective Equipment.
“We had to close down like everyone else, but we quickly shifted how we do things to keep our staff working and getting product out the door,” said Haney Builders general manager Alex Yakovyshenko.
BIG UPTICK SEEN IN DIY HOME PROJECTS
Deemed an essential service because of the construction materials they carry, Haney Builders quickly pivoted, doing curbside pick up and sales over the phone. They also started offering free local delivery.
“When we did open our store with reduced hours, we saw lots of older men who had been sitting at home bored and either their partner sent them out of the house or they wanted to shop,” Alex said with a laugh. “There was a lot of weekend warriors who turned into mid-week warriors doing DIY projects.”
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