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Heat wave in East spurs AC, fan sales

As record temperatures scorched much of the Mid-Atlantic region over the last several days, home centers and hardware stores scrambled to keep up with the demand for air conditioning units, fans and related products.

Beginning June 7, much of the Eastern Seaboard faced four straight days of temperatures in the mid- to high-90s, although the National Weather Service said the humidity made it feel more like 105 degrees. Consumers started making a mad dash to stock up on air conditioners and fans as early as June 5, catching some store owners by surprise.

“It was a little early in the season for air conditioners, so we weren’t prepared,” said Glenn Rankin, owner of Rankin’s True Value Hardware in Warrenton, Va. “We got a few in on Friday (June 6), and they went out pretty fast. We didn’t have enough. The first heat wave of the season is always the hardest.”

Home Depot spokeswoman Jean Niemi said there has been high demand for cooling units in New York, Massachusetts, Baltimore, Philadelphia and North Carolina, but that Home Depot stores have been receiving continuous shipments of units to restock their shelves. “It is always a good idea for consumers to call ahead to check availability,” she said.

AHome Depot store in South Attleboro, Mass., sold more than 600 air conditioning units over the weekend and another 300 on Monday to pretty much deplete its stock. “We’ve got another 100 units coming in today, so we are replenishing,” said Trish Heim, the store’s operations manager. “It’s been an absolute frenzy – like when you have a snowstorm and people come in and buy you out of shovels and ice melt.”

Ed Dionne, assistant manager of a Home Depot in Rutland, Vt., said the rush started there June 6, as news reports of the impending heat wave began to surface. “We sold a lot of air conditioners on Friday and Saturday, but Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and yesterday, people couldn’t bear it and were buying anything they could get their hands on,” Dionne said. He said the store was able to replenish with stock from the warehouse as well as stores in other areas that didn’t get hit as hard, adding, “The demand was more of what you would see in July rather than June.”

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