Aquidneck Island Businesses Run Low on Salt and Sand Before Weekend Storm
Most local businesses ran out of salt and sand Friday, but a few businesses were expecting shipments on Saturday.
Businesses in Portsmouth, Middletown and Newport ran low Friday on two products in high demand — rock salt and sand.
With nearly every driveway, walkway and path covered in ice, as well as another winter storm on the way, residents are eagerly seeking out a way to stop the slippery madness.
While inside Handren's Hardware Friday evening, one woman stopped in to ask where to find salt. "We're all out," said Sarah Handren.
"No one anticipated this," said her father and store owner, Larry Handren.
According the the owner of Handren's Hardware, very few businesses on Aquidneck Island have rock salt or sand. Larry Handren said he doesn't expect another shipment for at least 10 days.
Across the street at Rite Aid, the store manager also said it would take weeks before more rock salt was delivered.
The Clements' Market manager, however, said they expected another delivery by Saturday morning.
Across the island, Newport Hardware, which is located next to Wal-Mart in Newport, was still stocked with rock salt and sand.
In Middletown, however, supplies were dwindling.
A store employee at Benny’s in Middletown said the store ran out of ice melt and did not know when more would come in. “Hopefully, tomorrow,” he said.
Throughout the day, he fielded numerous calls from customers.
Jack Richardson, owner of Richardson’s Beach Hardware in Middletown, has sold out of 3,500 pounds of ice melt since Monday.
He said that he and other area hardware store owners have been in contact with each other in recent days concerned about the shortage, along with plow truck drivers and snow removal professionals.
Suppliers have also been unable to resupply shovels within the last few days, he added. Handren's Hardware in Portsmouth had plenty of shovels for sale Friday.
Richardson believed all of Aquidneck Island was sold out of ice melt by Thursday afternoon when temperatures plummeted suddenly around 4 p.m. and caused severe icing.
“Yesterday, we took a waiting list that went from the front of the page to the back, and we had another shipment come in earlier today. That was 1,500 pounds and since it was already spoken for, it’s already gone,” Richardson said around 5 p.m. Friday. “We did pretty well today. We satisfied almost everyone on the list. But it goes fast.”
A similar shortage occurred several years ago, he recalled, when the central United States experienced a series of ice storms and nationwide suppliers diverted much of the northeast’s supply of ice melt to those areas.
In Richardson’s case, the cause of the shortage seems to stem from a delay in transit.
He learned from his supplier that his latest shipment that he hoped to receive by Saturday is “sitting in the trucking company’s warehouse in Boston somewhere” and will not arrive until Monday. He did not know the name of the trucking company.
On Monday, Richardson hopes to receive another 2,000 pounds of ice melt.
Until then, he recommended that people use other alternatives that can provide traction on ice, including the following:
- Oil Dry / Speedy Dry
- Regular salt from the supermarket, purchased in bulk.
- Certain kinds of kitty litter. (Note: This can get messy and muddy really fast.)
So far, Richardson has not heard of any price gouging and he has not had to impose purchase limits on customers yet.
“Everyone’s out. There’s nothing for anyone to gouge,” he said.
As for how much people are buying, he said, "So far they've all been pretty considerate and taking just what they need to get them through Monday. They know I have other customers who need it too."
Businesses Expected to Have Rock Salt/Sand on Saturday:
Newport Hardware in Newport