In a letter signed not only by the president of the association but also by major North American retailers, distributors and cooperatives, the North American Hardware Association asked authorities to allow independent hardware stores to remain open even as other retail and food service establishments are restricted due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The letter, signed by Robert Cutter, president and CEO of the North American Retail Hardware Association; Dan Starr, president and CEO Do it Best.; Kevin Macnab, president and CEO, Home Hardware Stores; Steve Synnott, president and CEO PRO Group; John Venhuizen, president and CEO, Ace Hardware; David Christmas, president and CEO, Distribution America; Boyden Moore, president and CEO Orgill; and John Hartmann, president and CEO True Value, noted that NRHA is cautioning all stores to use utmost care and follow all health guidelines in operation, but asserted that independent hardware retailers provided vital services that are critical to people responding to the crisis.
The letter read, in part:
“In recent days, the discussion of how to best ensure the public health has included the possibility of asking all “non-essential” retail operations to shut their doors for a period of time, thereby minimizing exposure to the virus.
While NRHA is fully in support of any steps public health officials may deem necessary to combat COVID-19, up to and including the temporary closure of non-essential retail operations, we also urge public officials to consider locally owned home improvement stores among those retail operations determined to be “essential” and allow these business owners the option to stay open as a public service.
With nearly 35,000 independent home improvement retailers serving communities across North America, these stores provide much-needed services to individuals and contractors, providing them with the products and support required to keep their homes and communities safe, secure and functioning.
The products carried by independent home improvement retailers range from cleaning supplies and tools to batteries and storage containers, all of which can be essential to maintaining a safe and secure living environment.
In many communities, the local hardware store represents the only outlet where consumers have access to essential supplies for cleaning, disinfecting, maintaining or repairing their residences.
It is also important to note that locally owned home improvement stores have a proven track record of providing essential supplies and support to communities in past emergency situations, such as hurricanes, floods, fires and civil unrest.”