Virus Diaries: Whit Davis Sees Sales Up As Homeowners Get to Work

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Editor’s Note: This is the latest in a series of short features on small businesses responding to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Few businesses have been lucky in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, but one is Whit Davis Lumber Plus, a privately held lumber and home products retailer with stores in Jacksonville, Cabot, Sherwood and Greenbrier.

Unlike sales at most other stores, theirs are building, Marketing Coordinator Kelly Watson said.

She attributes the rise to locked-down homeowners taking on do-it-yourself home projects. They’re also buying outdoor products, such as mulch, and doing more yard work.

“I think that [business] is going up because so many people are at home and they’re like, ‘OK, what can I do? Like the DIY projects that I’ve been thinking about for however long, let me tackle that,’” Watson said, adding that outdoor items are selling well too. “People want to get outside so badly right now. So I think that’s helping too … having that soil/garden therapy.”

Meanwhile, contractors are still working and buying materials, she said.

That isn’t to say the business hasn’t been affected by the pandemic. It’s made changes to protect employees and customers.

Whit Davis is encouraging social distancing by blocking off areas to keep customers from crowding each other or cashiers, and its stores are offering curbside pickup. Some employees are wearing masks and gloves.

“We appreciate the business, and we’re doing everything we can to keep our employees safe. And our customers as well,” Watson said. “We’ve been very lucky and we’re grateful and thankful for the business that we have.”

The pandemic has delayed the transition to a new computer system. That switchover had been scheduled for next week, but it could still happen in May, she said.

Watson said she was grateful Whit Davis hasn’t been shuttered by a stay-at-home order. Gov. Asa Hutchinson has been criticized in recent days for not issuing such an order.

“I think he’s doing a great job. I appreciate him and how he feels about his state and all of us, you know, who live here. I feel like he’s doing a great job,” Watson said. “I try to listen to all the press conferences, and he is saying that what he is recommending is working. The majority of the people are really listening and trying to stay at home as much as they can and not get out and about. So I’m hopeful about that. I’m really hopeful that things are going good for our state.”