Merlin's today

Merlin’s Ace Hardware in Chanhassen’s Market Square shopping district.

At Merlin’s Ace Hardware in Chanhassen, everything from canning supplies to paint buckets have been flying off the shelves since March.

“Business has been good. A lot of people are stuck at home, doing chores around the house, and wanting to do more to their house,” said owner Kent Ludford. “They get bored,” he laughed.

If hardware stores weren’t declared essential this year, Merlin’s, which is celebrating its 71st year of business this month, would have closed permanently. But because of the pandemic, they did even better than their previous year, increasing sales by over a third, Ludford added.

Whether it’s a home garden or a new addition, small and large home renovations have been on the rise during the long quarantine.

The city of Chanhassen has seen the number of residential building permits more than double compared to last year, a trend spotted in other southwest metro cities. At the end of November, the city had issued 2,000 residential addition permits, up from 814 at the same time in 2019, confirmed community development director Kate Aanenson — a 145% increase.

A large portion of the additions are related to the two hailstorms that struck Chanhassen this summer, one of which had golf ball-sized hail that damaged many resident’s roofs, added Aanenson.

Another popular renovation this year? Adding, replacing, or modifying decks, said Chanhassen building official Eric Tessman — “it seems like everyone has been putting one out,” he said.

Though numbers have increased, the city has been able to keep up with the demand, Tessman said. Typical permit turnaround has remained steady at 5-10 business days. The biggest difference is how the inspections work; instead of in-person walkthroughs, the city has had residents video calling inspectors.

“We’ll FaceTime them and have them walk through the house, and we tell them things we want to see or look at closer,” Tessman explained.

Interest has spiked, but supply chains have still had issues throughout the pandemic, Ludford said. If even just one part of the process is delayed, everything slows down, leaving some shelves empty for weeks. Ten months in, Merlin’s been able to get most of what residents want and need.

“But we’re still short on Plexiglass,” Ludford said.