When Jason Haley heard about the COVID-19 pandemic, he quickly took action.
He ordered $40,000 in extra inventory to stock Ace Hardware of Clarkston, his store in Clarkston, Michigan. He assumed supply chain interruptions would make it challenging to keep shelves full.
He was right, but not in the way he expected. Instead of supply chain failures due to the virus in China, Haley saw a surge in local demand for products as nearby Detroit became a COVID-19 hot spot.
He quickly saw a need for providing supplies, safe shopping options and hope to the people in his community.
On top of providing products and customer service, Haley saw the need to offer hope. He began recording videos of himself sharing good news he had heard and positive steps his team was able to make to keep customers safe. He clarified new and confusing government rules.
And he kept the messaging in the videos upbeat, sharing things he and his community could be thankful for, such as the high number of patients being discharged from local hospitals.
The responses from customers on social media have shown that Haley’s messages of hope resonate.
“If you read these comments, you would think that we were saving the world. People are really appreciative right now,” Haley says.
The amount of time Haley spent ordering products quadrupled. Finding products became difficult due to customers’ urgent search for protective masks, cleaning supplies and gloves, so Haley spent time daily hunting for alternate suppliers.
For weeks, Haley and his wife Melanie worked every day to meet community needs with no time off. They scrambled to set up new protocols for cleaning the store and keeping the store stocked with products. They also hired new employees to keep up with a growing customer base and allow staffers to self isolate at home if they were not comfortable working.
The Haleys’ work and their team’s efforts to serve and offer hope and kindness aren’t new, but COVID-19 amplified the need for them.
“An unintended consequence of this virus has been that it has revealed our character,” Haley says. “Our character has always been our character, but the situation with COVID has really allowed us to demonstrate that to the community.”