16 Apr How Papenhausen Hardware is Surviving in These Days
Papenhausen Hardware in San Francisco is a family-owned independent hardware store that’s been a neighborhood fixture since 1936. We reached out to owner Matt Rogers to learn how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the business and how their operation has changed.
Q: What’s happened with your employee staffing?
A: Our staffing took a huge hit after the SIP order. Some of our staff lives and attends SFSU which was closed forcing them to move back home out of the Bay Area, others opted to stay at home to keep older and vulnerable family members safe, and some just decided the risk of working was too high and are unwilling to work with the public. We are currently running reduced hours.
Q: How are you approaching employee and customer safety?
A: We implemented a variety of measures to protect our staff and customers. We spray surfaces with alcohol, have installed a “sneeze guard” at the front counter, and limited the total number of customers that can be in the store at any one time. When the SIP was extended, the health department mandated that each essential business post their policies, which was a form with checkboxes that included many of the measures I just mentioned. Every open business should be taking the same level of care.
Q: Did you change the hours of operation?
A: As mentioned earlier, we lost about 75 percent of our staff and shifted to a four day a week schedule with reduced hours. This allows for our existing staff to maintain a reasonable weekly schedule as well as being there for the community.
Q: What have you seen as far as customer count and transactions?
A: Customer count is down, but the transaction size is easily four times average.
Q: How well has the supply chain been holding up?
A: The supply chain has reached its limits. Essential items that are in high demand are not being shipped with any regularity. I see some suppliers responding better than others. Surprisingly it has been our secondary vendors that have really stepped up. Our primary supplier was obviously not prepared for anything like this and has consistently delivered very little in terms of product or useful information. It has been a source of frustration and disappointment.
Q: Are you having to source products outside of your regular supplier?
A: Yes, we have been on the phone with companies and sales reps trying to find any variant of the items we most need. We have been relatively successful, but it takes a lot of time.
Q: Did any of your suppliers close?
A: There has definitely been a disruption in the normal process. Lots of suppliers have staff working from home, and it might take a little longer to reach them. For the most part, companies seem to be open. I know of one local supplier that shut down, but all of the others are either open or operating with reduced hours.