Santa Ana winds: Hardware stores rush to meet demand

An employee at Orchard Supply Hardware in South Pasadena restocks chainsaws to the front of the store on Friday morning.
An employee at Orchard Supply Hardware in South Pasadena restocks chainsaws to the front of the store on Friday morning.
Grant Slater/KPCC

Hardware supply stores have been inundated with customers since powerful gusts battered parts of the Southland Wednesday night. Pasadena's Orchard Supply Hardware opened at 7 a.m. the day after the storms and it has not closed since. Palettes stacked with chainsaws and branch cutters filled the store entrance.

Store manager Dave Turner said that they've been using flashlights at night to help customers find what they need, which is usually flashlights. But generators have been the most difficult to keep in stock.

"We've had a huge run on generators. We've run three or four special trucks down from our DC up north with loading every generator we have in the chain don to this area to help people out. They're gone very quickly, so we're trying to arrange for more from vendors and see what we can come up with," Turner said.

Turner said they plan to keep trying for more generators through the weekend. Home Depot Public Relations Manager Kathryn Gallagher said their company been shipping supplies from other locations into Los Angeles County stores with the highest demand.

In San Gabriel, Mission SuperHardware has remained open for regular hours despite the ongoing power outage. Store manager Aaron Scott said that though other local businesses closed shop, "this store has been here for over 70 years, so we're going to be here no matter what weather comes."

According to Scott, the store remained busy on Thursday, with most customers reaching for batteries, and as it got darker, flashlights. The store also sold plywood, hammers and other tools.

"No one really prepares because Southern California isn't a windy place, but we were prepared – we have generators and we keep a large overstock," he said.

The store didn't offer gas-powered equipment, but Scott predicted gas-powered chainsaws would have been popular too.

Scott said he was also caught off-guard by the wreckage Santa Ana winds left behind. He's without power until the middle of next week.

"Yesterday was my day off, but I ended up coming down to my own store because I ran out of batteries," he said.

Scott hopes the bout of bad weather "makes everyone wake up in case something major happens. This is only a couple days, this was just a little wind," he said, noting that earthquakes can be worse. "Nothing's going to stop Mother Nature."