GREAT FALLS — Many Montanans have spent more time at home as the state continues working through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Great Falls Ace Hardware store manager Keith Gebo said many people have started to plant gardens to keep themselves healthy during quarantine - but those planning to can this Fall may find themselves in a pickle due to a shortage of canning lids.
"According to customers there's none in town," he said. "And I don't know that they'll be a reprieve of that anytime soon."
"Albertsons, Smith's, here (Ace)," said Cascade County resident Jolene Weaver. "I did find some at the deli in Vaughn, but they don t have any last I checked either, so yeah, they're empty."
Gebo told MTN News major suppliers say both production and demand for canning supplies is up 320 percent for the chain. "In a normal year this whole top cap here is absolutely full of canning supplies for backstock," he said, pointing to a top shelf. "Also if you can see on that back wall- that whole wall is used for our back stock of canning jars."
Gebo said he’s not surprised at the shortage, after the store sold out of gardening supplies earlier this year. "Our greenhouse was totally and completely bought out and done a month earlier than normal," he said. "Everything was just gone- vegetables, flowers, everything. "
He told MTN News demand continues for items such as barbecue grills and sporting equipment. They're also seeing more home repair purchases as residents clean up through quarantine. "Painting seemed to be a big thing that people were doing to spruce up their homes since they were spending so much time in it," he said.
The hardware store isn’t the only place people are turning to; The Good Wood Guys say they've also seen business significantly up as residents remodel spaces and home offices.
"Five or six mantles that we're doing right now," said owner Chris Crocker. "Lots of counter tops, kitchen and dining room tables."
While hobbies like canning are in high demand right now for families, The Good Wood Guys are expecting their kids craft sales to pick up this Fall including Halloween pumpkin and a winter snowman craft sets.
"We have seen quite a lot of increase in those and expect a lot more toward the holiday season," he said.
The company doesn't intend to run out of product, but other stores that depend on distributors to keep their shelves stocked say this isn't the first time they've seen the supply chain disrupted-and it won't be the last.
"It wasn't that we couldn't get the fuel or the garden soil or the potting soil, it was actually the packaging," said Gebo. "The metal can that it (moto mix) comes in became the shortage so we got very, very low on our steel moto mix because of the canning issue.