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Louisville hardware stores impacted by national lumber shortages, cost increases

Across the country, lumber and metal shortages are impacting large and small businesses
Published: May. 6, 2021 at 12:02 AM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The shelves at Brownsboro Hardware & Paint are stocked with supplies for home, garden, and grill, though some aisles may be slightly leaner than usual.

“There are a few items that we just can’t get our hands on right now,” owner Jim Lehrer said.

Lehrer told WAVE 3 News his current supply chain issues were impacting products like resin, lumber, and some items made from steel. He said those delays were due in part to a harsh winter in the South and strain from the pandemic.

“Inventories were thin to begin with, and then with the pandemic, everybody stayed home, they worked on their house,” he said.

Lehrer noted that shipping costs were also impacting his stock of certain items like cedar mulch.

“The freight to bring it in from the northwest is actually more than the cost of the product itself if we could find a driver to bring a load here,” he said.

Lehrer explained his store worked with a large supplier that allowed him to keep most other items stocked but “it’s still a challenge.”

Across the country, lumber and metal shortages are impacting not just local hardware stores, but homebuilders and those hoping to renovate their homes. Amid the pandemic, increased demand has outpaced a slower pace of production.

“The pricing pressure on lumber especially, if anybody’s building a house they know what I’m talking about, lumber pricing keeps inching up week after week,” Lehrer said.

According to the National Association of Home Builders, lumber costs have added nearly $36,000 to the average price of a new single-family home.

“What our suppliers and vendors are telling us, it may be until the fall before things get back to normal or caught up,” Lehrer said.

Lehrer explained he only sells “convenience” lumber so he was less impacted by the shortage; though he still hopes to “stay ahead” of demand for different products by stocking more than he normally would.

“Back in the fall we stocked up about 30% more [grills] than we normally would, so we’re in great stock for that,” he said. “I think any retailer is going to bend over backwards to try to help customers get what they need and get them on their way.”

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