PARKERSBURG - The de-icing and salt shortage plaguing the eastern seaboard has struck the Mid-Ohio Valley.
With the chances of more wintry weather in the near future, residents of the Mid-Ohio Valley find themselves asking the same question: Where is all of the salt?
Shop owners and managers have found themselves facing the question of the lack of salt for home use repeatedly over the past few weeks, and can do little to answer their customers' questions.
Photo by Gretchen Richards
The sign outside of Parkersburg Paint and Janitorial Supply sums up the situation across the Mid-Ohio Valley this week. What little salt can be found on store shelves is vanishing quickly, with no relief in sight.
As one store owner put it: "We are simply out of salt. I couldn't get more in if I had to, because I just don't know where to get it. All of my suppliers are out, and until they get more, I won't have more, either," said Kim Bayes, owner of Matamoras Hardware and Feed.
Matamoras Hardware and Feed began the winter with 88 bags of salt, which is usually enough to last throughout the winter with some leftovers, Bayes said.
"This is a bad winter as far as using salt is concerned," Bayes said. "With all of this weather, we ran completely out. People keep calling and asking if we have any, but we just don't," she said.
The story is the same at stores across the Mid-Ohio Valley: out of salt with no more arriving anytime soon.
"This winter really has been a lot more difficult than previous ones have been," said John Brammer, paint sales associate at True Value Hardware in Marietta. "In the past, if we ran out of salt, we could always just re-order it. But right now, the whole East Coast is out."
Almost every shop has more salt and de-icing materials on order, but without knowing when those orders will be filled, area residents are faced with having to make what they have last longer.
When a store does manage to get a shipment of salt in, only partial orders arrive, managers report. And even these are going fast, according to reports.
"Last week, 20 bags came in," said Brammer. "And we were sold out again within the hour."
True Value has more than 200 bags on order, with no idea when they will arrive, Brammer said.
The story is the same in Wirt County, where Wirt Hardware in Elizabeth has empty salt shelves, too, said Kevin Dooley, manager.
"Last year, we didn't sell but a couple dozen bags," Dooley said. "We even had leftovers that we kept all year. Now, not only are they gone, but everything we ordered for this year is gone, too," he said.
Wirt Hardware has received so many calls from people asking if there is salt available that Dooley knows he will sell out quickly when the salt does arrive.
"If everyone who keeps calling comes in after hearing about a delivery, it sure won't last long," Dooley said.
Even national store names are finding it impossible to keep salt in stock.
Lowe's in Parkersburg has seen what little salt it does get vanish overnight, said assistant store manager Matt Putman.
"We've been out of salt for over a week now," Putman said. "We got one pallet with 50 bags on it in last week. It arrived late in the evening, and was gone by 8 a.m. the next day."
Putman has been with Lowe's for 11 years, and doesn't recall salt ever being in such high demand before.
"I've never seen it run out like this," Putman said. "This has to be the worst winter I've seen with the company."