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Heavy on the Salt

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Headley Hardware owner Randall Jones loads a skid of ice melt onto a trailer from Joe Spiker Excavating Tuesday morning. Jones said the Greencastle business had sold 147 tons of ice melt through Saturday, with another 40 tons arriving Tuesday morning. New truckloads were also set to arrive Wednesday and Friday. [Order this photo]
GREENCASTLE -- It took a crazy week to surprise someone who's been in business for a quarter century.

That's exactly what last week was, though, and Headley Hardware owner Randall Jones is scratching his head over the amount of ice melt he's seen move through his store.

"I think this is crazy," Jones said. "I've never seen anything like this before."

So far this winter, the Greencastle store has sold 147 tons of ice melt, with 40 new tons arriving on Tuesday morning.

For the first time in 25 years, Jones said Headley's ran out of salt last Thursday, the day the community really began moving again after the ice storm gripped Putnam County from Monday evening to Wednesday.

All this was after selling 60 tons last Monday.

Then on Saturday, the store got a new shipment. It was an intense day -- a truckload sold in an hour and 10 minutes -- but one that made Jones proud to have a business in Greencastle.

The customers picked up their bags of salt in front of the store, but had to go inside to pay. Even with 50 to 60 cars packing the parking lot, no patrons stiffed the store.

"It came out exactly perfect," Jones said. "Not one person left without paying."

Jones also said he's seen reports on television of stores in Indianapolis not being able to get the product. He said this has not been the case in Greencastle.

"The storeowners that say they can't get the product or don't know what to do -- that isn't us," Jones said.

He also said this is a time to take care of customers, not gouge them with high prices in a time of misfortune.

"The prices are set for the season," he said. "I'm pleased to be able to provide the product. People have to remember that we're here for the bad things."

Perhaps the biggest challenge for the business hasn't been the ice melt -- they've either had it on hand to sell or they haven't. Some of the other products needed to recover from the storm have come about from customer demand.

The store has seen lots of sales of electrical products for downed lines. They moved plenty of generators and kerosene heaters as the storm approached. They've sold tools for chipping ice such as sledge hammers, picks, mattocks and digging bars.

Now people need chainsaws, pruning saws, loppers and other cutting tools and accessories.

One customer came to rent the store's log splitter, which had been left outside the night before. Before for the hydraulics would work, it had to be stored inside overnight.

"Some of it was so obvious, like the ice melt, but some of the other stuff -- it took people asking for us to think of the secondary and tertiary things," Jones said.

After more than a week of craziness and a busy winter overall, Jones give credit to his employees.

"I have 22 top of the line employees," he said.

At this point, the challenge moves to staying stocked on ice melt and other potential needs for the remainder of the winter. Jones said the store has another shipment of salt set for today and one on Friday. They carried over 25 tons from last winter to this winter, and he hopes to be in a similar situation come spring.

He simply wants to make sure the store is there to serve a need in the community.

"The main thing is we provide a product that keeps everybody as safe as they can be," Jones said.

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i will agree that headleys has some good, prompt employees. i always like going in there. oh mr. jones is smiling all the way too the bank with outrageous record sales last week. great work people!!!

-- Posted by badboy46120 on Wed, Feb 9, 2011, at 7:05 AM

I was told on Friday that a new shipment would be in that night and available for sale that next morning. I was there at 8:00 in the morning and they said the truck was still in Remington, IN. Come to find out later in the day, Headley had sold a full shipment to contractors and the fire department and saved non for their customers. It was said that the truck didn't arrive until 11:30 on Saturday.

I think it's pretty sad that this story talks up how good they are in their business, but when it actually comes down to it, they are only worried about the bucks coming in, not their loyal customers like me...

-- Posted by yachtsman on Wed, Feb 9, 2011, at 10:08 AM

You'll have to admit though, Headley is the best hardware store in Greencastle!

-- Posted by BbridgeJC on Wed, Feb 9, 2011, at 10:48 AM

i would like to clarify Saturdays ice melt delivery. first- anyone that asked us to save them some either by phone, or if they were here before the truck came had those held. second- the public got over half of the 20 tons, we limited the factories,contractors and apartment complexes to one skid. we did our best to take care of everyone, there simply was not enough for the demand. again, we had NEVER run out in my 25 years until last week, and i will try to always have product when needed at a fair price. if we were only worried about money i doubt we would still be here after 57 years.

-- Posted by randallj on Wed, Feb 9, 2011, at 10:58 AM

Well that seems as understatement to me, considering Headley's is the only hardware store in Greencastle. Yes their is Blacks, but they are mainly represented as a lumber company.

-- Posted by yachtsman on Wed, Feb 9, 2011, at 11:00 AM

I in fact made a phone call and was in person promptly 8:00 AM Saturday and the day before and was never offered the chance to have any saved. I even talked to an employee and was told over the phone when the truck arrived that the demand was so high that it couldn't be saved. I understand the high demand for ice melt, but it should have been made clear that if we could have the option to reserve a bag or two, we could. Even making a reserve payment would have been fine by me.

-- Posted by yachtsman on Wed, Feb 9, 2011, at 11:08 AM

All I know for certain was when we went there Wednesday the 2nd and asked to rent a generator and pay with a credit card that they didn't have a way of accepting at the moment they were very helpful.

-- Posted by schuster on Wed, Feb 9, 2011, at 11:43 AM

I am so happy to b done with headley hardware. I get everything I need from other stores and if they don't have It i take a trip out of town.

-- Posted by dontbacrybaby on Wed, Feb 9, 2011, at 12:49 PM

Have a nice trip crybaby.

-- Posted by dumpsterdiva2 on Wed, Feb 9, 2011, at 2:24 PM

I'm pretty sure everyone could tell the conditions were bad. I went to Walmart on Thursday, but I didn't complain because the parking lot only had one lane to drive in and everything else covered with inches of packed snow and ice. It was just pretty obvious that NO ONE could get rid of that much snow and ice quickly.

-- Posted by yachtsman on Wed, Feb 9, 2011, at 6:18 PM

I went to Headley's just to see if they had any ice melt. They did for 13.00 a bag. GOUGE !! Can't complain to much though. Knew way ahead of time what we were in for and didn't plan properly. No one's fault but mine....

-- Posted by calcans1 on Wed, Feb 9, 2011, at 10:18 PM

Hard time even getting bulk salt by the semi! Barges are not arriving like they should downstream...........

-- Posted by kubotafan on Thu, Feb 10, 2011, at 3:19 PM

You have a choice. You can buy the salt at whatever cost the retailer is selling it at OR you do not buy the salt and deal with the ice and snow around your house. It is a choice that you as a consumer can make. Just like the choice to buy cigarettes or not buy cigarettes or just like the choice to buy mcdonalds or buy a salad. It is a choice be glad you have the ability to make it!!

-- Posted by bottomline on Fri, Feb 11, 2011, at 9:28 PM

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