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Area hardware stores saw increase in flood-related sales as floodwaters took hold of the Red River Valley

For area hardware stores, recent rains have made for a busy couple of weeks, as the need for supplies like sump pumps, fans, shop vacuums and hoses in waterlogged towns skyrocketed.

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May-Port Hardware Hank owner Sue Strand, right, with employees Misael Monroy, left, and Lilly Archer, talk about a rush on flood supplies the weekend of April 23.
Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
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MAYVILLE, N.D. — As floodwaters receded in Mayville, North Dakota, on April 26, Sue Strand, owner of the town’s Hardware Hank, recalled the busy weekend before.

As much of the area experienced heavy rain, people were lining up outside the store before it opened to get their hands on flood cleanup supplies, and she and her husband posted their cell phone number outside the store to make themselves available to customers at any time of day.

“Luckily we had been stocked with enough sump pumps and hoses and things that people needed,” she said.

Strand estimated that the store had around 80 sump pumps before the rain started, and by the end of the weekend, shelves were mostly empty.

For area hardware stores, recent rains have made for a busy couple of weeks, as the need for supplies like sump pumps, fans, shop vacuums and hoses in waterlogged towns skyrocketed.

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Brandon Buckalew, owner of Local Ace Hardware in East Grand Forks, kept up with demand using social media. Along with updating customers with what he did have in store, he also asked customers what supplies they needed and sent in an emergency order to get more product as soon as possible.

Buckalew said flood supplies on Saturday, April 23, went fast. By that night, he had contacted the Ace Hardware district manager to see if he could get an emergency shipment of supplies before the next scheduled truck on Monday afternoon. Buckalew was able to send in a special order for delivery early that Monday, and brought extra supplies over from Local Hardware Hank in Crookston, which he also owns.

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The diversion has two pieces — a 3.2 mile bypass channel that redirects water from the Park River around the community during high flow events, and 12 miles of tieback levees that protect Grafton from overland flooding.

When supplies were brought in from Crookston and delivered in the emergency order, they were not shelved, but set at the front of the store.

“We just made it easier for people to get and tried to put price tags on it, but most people didn’t care — they saw a pump, got it and checked out,” Buckalew said.

He estimates over the first round of rain on April 23 and 24, the store in East Grand Forks sold between 50 and 100 pumps, 50 shop vacuum cleaners, 75 fans and miles of hose, and planned to restock for the rain on April 29 and 30.

In Crookston, where the Red Lake River crested in the major flood stage twice in eight days, 27.07 feet on April 25 and 24.7 feet on May 1, the demand for flood supplies was similar. Local Hardware Hank Manager Bruce Arvidson said business was typical of that during any bad weather. In snowstorms, he sees people coming in to buy snow blowers and shovels. When an ice storm hits, he sells more ice melt.

“Stores do well when there’s a disaster, and you hate to see that, but that’s just the nature of business,” said Arvidson.

Related Topics: FLOODING
Ingrid Harbo joined the Grand Forks Herald in September 2021.

Harbo covers Grand Forks region news, and also writes about business in Grand Forks and the surrounding area.

Readers can reach Harbo at 701-780-1124 or iharbo@gfherald.com. Follow her on Twitter @ingridaharbo.
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