Before COVID-19, Costello’s Ace Hardware stores were filling around 10 online or phone orders per day.
The health crisis has brought drastic changes. The online and phone orders began flooding in and haven’t slowed down since early March. Now the stores fill 10 of each type of order per hour.
“The volume is just going through the roof right now,” marketing director Joey Costello says. His family owns 32 Costello’s Ace stores in New Jersey, New York and Maryland.
Staffing the stores has been difficult during the pandemic because many employees are older and in higher-risk health categories, so many other workers are helping in parts of the business where they normally wouldn’t work.
“There was a need for some experienced managers in a few of our stores, so I spent a week in our North Port, New York, store this past week,” Costello says. “We’re really chipping in. It’s really all hands on deck right now.”
Due to the myriad online and phone orders, the stores are making thousands of product deliveries to better serve their customers and community.
Costello’s Ace employees are scrambling to keep up, and even the company’s executive team is making deliveries to people’s homes.
“My boss has probably made 400 deliveries himself in his personal car,” Costello says. “I haven’t seen anything like this.”
The chain of stores has hired about 150 new employees, purchased three additional delivery vans and has added 10 full-time and part-time drivers to do home delivery throughout the company.
The way Costello’s does business and what customers expect of retailers will never be the same, Costello says.
“I think that this crisis won’t really have necessarily changed the course of history of how we do retail,” he says. “I think it will just speed it along.”