Hardware store owner Henry Burke is cautioning customers to head home early, but he’s planning to work the full day. With winter storm Pax beginning to hit Raleigh, North Carolina, Burke says business has never been better. “This is the busiest morning I’ve seen in 41 years,” says Burke, whose father opened Raleigh's Burke Brothers Hardware in 1936. “If you had called this morning, we couldn’t have answered it. We have three lines, and all were ringing.” Burke says yesterday he served more than 1,000 customers prepping for Pax. The winter storm has already knocked out power for a reported 200,000-plus homes and businesses in the Atlanta area, and is expected to move up the East Coast Wednesday into Thursday. On his end, Burke says the price of rock salt has been up and down. “When it’s like this, you buy it: It doesn’t matter what the price is,” he says. Luckily, the store got a big delivery early Wednesday morning, helping Burke meet the demand. Farther north, fourth-generation hardware-store owner Russell Hunter says it’s also been a banner year for rock salt. “There’s been tremendous demand. So far I have not had an issue getting it … but my supplier did warn me he is starting to dwindle,” says Hunter, who runs Pfau’s Hardware Store in West Hartford, Conn. While rock salt is still in supply, Hunter says he just sold out of roof rakes. Hunter says his supplier raised the price of rock salt a few percentage points, but he decided to keep his prices stable. “I’m making a little less on it, but that’s OK. I’m hesitant to change it in-season: I start with a price and I like to keep that through the end,” says Hunter. He is selling 50-pound “Safer than Salt” bags for $26. In East Northport, New York, Karp’s Hardware Store owner Alan Talman is having a harder time keeping salt in stock. “There’s more people looking for rock salt than there is [supply] … The demand has certainly outstripped the supply,” says Talman. “We don’t usually get this much winter – we’re usually well prepared.” Talman says this is only the second time in 24 years that he has seen this great a demand for snowstorm essentials like rock salt and shovels. While he’s sold out for the moment, he is expecting a delivery tomorrow. “Everyone is coming in. The phone is ringing dozens of times an hour, specifically for rock salt,” says Talman. And though he can’t provide rock salt for the time being, Talman is still able to hand out some wise winter-storm advice. “Stay home, drink heavily and don’t drive, and it will be gone before you know it. Spring is right around the corner,” says Talman.
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