WOODSFIELD — True Value Hardware has weathered the COVID-19 and welcomes new and returning customers.
Tony Kemp, owner, took over the business his parents, Walter and Sally Kemp, started in 1974.
“My father passed away in January, partly due to COVID, but he was active in the store clear up through,” Kemp said. “He was here all the time. My mother, Sally, still comes in. She does some paperwork still.”
“It’s grown a lot since 1974. We’re into our third generation now. Myself and my wife, Melony work here,” he said. “My son, John, just came into the business.”
Kemp said customers enjoy personal attention.
“We like to help the customers. We don’t want to just point them in the direction. We want to be hands-on and help them with their project, and I think we’ve always been very friendly, very welcoming,” he said. “If something’s wrong, we’ll go the extra mile to fix what might be.”
Kemp said the COVID-19 pandemic also took its toll.
“In the early beginning…March or April…we didn’t know what to do. We actually did curbside for a month here,” he said. “At the time, you didn’t know what you should do as a retail store. We didn’t close down. … Customers would call in and we’d get everything ready for them and we’d bring it out. We had a table outside the front door, and that’s how we operated.
“It was difficult at the lumber yard, because at the same time we didn’t want people back in the lumber yard. They would call in and we would get the material ready and we would set it out here in the parking lot. It was difficult times.”
Adjustments were made to meet demands and requirements.
“In the beginning, it was still fairly busy. We were still taking deliveries to job sites, but we were maintaining distance and wearing masks,” he said. “But then the prices started to go up. It took awhile. People paid the price for a while but eventually it got to be so high that yes, it affected our business, especially for the walk-in do-it-yourselfer. They were used to playing $4 for a 2X4, now it’s $10-plus dollars for the same 2X4. We kind of lost a lot of walk-in trade from do-it-yourselfers and homeowners. We still stayed fairly busy with bigger projects. Buildings and garages. We had several houses canceled. There’s a big difference between what the price was a year and a half ago, two years ago. … it’s starting to come down.”
Kemp added that like many other businesses, True Value is facing difficulties finding employees.
“We’ve cut back our hours in the evening because I don’t have enough people to cover it,” he said.
“It’s not just lumber, it’s everything. We need to get back to a more comfortable zone,” Kemp said. “Business has been fairly well considering what we’ve went through, but I think that once we get to a point where people feel comfortable with the prices, we’ll be back to more of a normal day-in, day-out.”
The business is located at 218 Ohio 78. For more information, call 740-472-1651.