Do-It-Yourself Home Improvement On the Rise
Since the Safer at Home orders took effect in March, most restaurants and retail have closed but just like grocery and drug stores, hardware facilities were deemed essential businesses. And, it’s a good thing. Forget Whole Foods or CVS, there have been long lines around the block at any neighborhood hardware store. It seems the customers can’t get enough of do-it-yourself home improvement projects to pass the time and stay active when not binging on Netflix. Whether it’s a therapeutic pursuit, or a positive move toward your future environment that you’re in control of, the DIY market is high in demand.
Family-owned Anawalt Lumber on Robertson Boulevard – with sister locations in Santa Monica, Malibu and Hollywood, is about to open a new store in the Pacific Palisades. The brand has taken over the old Norris Hardware on Sunset, which will debut the end of May.
Anawalt President, Rolondo Robles started with the company during the recession of 2009 and has never witnessed such a home-bound boom. “The new traffic is caused by ‘safer at home’ customers,” he told the Courier. While they still have professionals and handymen who shop there for lumber and paint, the new surge for computerized paint matching and potted plants has been caused by stir-crazy locals. “People want fertilizer, plant food and housewares from cleaner to gloves and lots of paint.”
The store opens at 6:30 a.m. in most locations, so try to arrive early if you want to avoid lines. And, even more surprising than opening a new location during a pandemic, they are hiring at all locations.
Another family-owned business, Pioneer Hardware on North Crescent Drive has been a staple in Beverly Hills since 1926, and just might be the oldest family-owned business in the area. Owner Jeff Tilem grew up in Beverly Hills and his father used to be the mayor.
Manager Ryan Hudson has worked for the company for 10 years and has seen products fly off the shelves in waves. First, it was lots of cleaning supplies to kill the coronavirus. “We had to become overnight experts,” Hudson told the Courier. “The first wave included disinfectants such as Lysol, Clorox Bleach, paper towels, hand sanitizer and more gloves than in our 100-year-history.” That quickly moved to regular cleaning supplies such as Windex.
Paint supplies has seen a large uptick in demand followed by gardening supplies such as seeds for vegetables and herbs. “We had to start carrying four to five different potting soils just to keep up,” said Hudson.
Pioneer carries a little bit of everything, but about a month ago, cookware such as pots, pans and baking tins started to disappear. “There are a lot of restaurants in Beverly Hills, but now our locals were at home so they needed a quart pan, muffin tin and frying pans,” said Hudson.
Oddly enough, the hardware store has had a slow-down with people buying tools, “Most of those require some sort of skill or prior knowledge,” he said. “Not everyone is comfortable mounting a TV on a wall but they are ok to put a flower in a pot or bake a cake.”
Prior to the pandemic, the main sales came from standard hardware supplies, but according to Hudson, “I’ve been in retail for a long time and this is the quickest shift in business I’ve ever seen.”
ACE Hardware on Bundy Drive is also experiencing daily lines around the block. Manager Joe Jurado recommends arriving first thing in the morning between 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. during the week. Online ordering and curbside pick-up are also available.
“The biggest surge has been with landscaping products from flowers for the yard, hanging baskets with lots of color and bark,” said Jurado. Also, kiddie pools and play sandboxes. “We are selling fake sand by the pallet,” he said.
Jurado also confirmed that the grilling department and charcoal sales have gone through the roof but paint is the number one item. “Every color of the rainbow – whatever they can get their hands on. We have been selling five-gallon containers,” he said.
According to management at Sherwin Williams on Westwood Boulevard, sales are continually brisk but there has been a spike in sales of soothing neutral paint colors in greys and whites.
International color experts, British paint and wallpaper brand Farrow & Ball has a two-story flagship on La Cienega in the design quarter. The space was originally constructed to be a gathering place for the design community with a top floor lounge and roof deck. The showroom features an interactive customer experience through a 3D magnetic display system.
With over 132 titles like Elephant’s Breath to Dead Salmon, the typical neutral swatches don’t stand a chance here. Currently, the brand is only available online, with free shipping, but the full range of paints and wallpapers, plus accessories are available at www.farrow-ball.com.
The dark blue hues such as “Scotch Blue, Hague Blue, Inchyra Blue or Stiffkey Blue are always popular, particularly in these times as blues are calming and relaxing,” according to a company spokesperson. Some of the client projects don’t just include walls but creating a statement ceiling or patterned floors to upcycling garden planters and furniture with a fresh coat of paint.
Even if you’ve combed the internet for chic new furnishings and accessories, sometimes there is nothing like a simple, clean coat of paint to further spruce up your surroundings.
If you want to take your home improvement project a step further, international interior designer Kathryn M. Ireland just launched a digital design concierge service The Perfect Room. The platform offers design consultations and services from small projects to complete rooms or whole house packages, from renown designers Jeffrey Alan Marks, Martyn Lawrence Bullard, Bunny Williams, Jeffrey Bilhuber, and Rachel Ashwell. Prices start at $175. https://theperfectroom.com/