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Local hardware store loses 40 percent of workers amid soaring coronavirus sales

Some of their workers didn't feel comfortable and others had to return home.

ATLANTA — While one in ten people in Georgia have filed for unemployment, one Atlanta business can't get people to even apply for a job.

Hardware stores are considered an essential business since they carry supplies for emergency repairs.

The owner of one Midtown Atlanta hardware store says business has been great since the coronavirus pandemic started. But while sales have been up, their staff numbers are way down.

Zach Stafford owns Shep's Midtown Ace at the corner of 7th and Juniper streets in Midtown Atlanta -- where they've seen a 25 percent increase in sales over the past five weeks.

"We see huge increases in cleaning supplies, grilling supplies, paint," Stafford said.

This should be good news -- except at the same time, they lost over 40 percent of their workers.

"That was a mix between employees 60 years and older that didn't feel comfortable working right now and also some college students; since school was canceled, they returned home," he said.

Applications have pretty much stopped coming in.

"I have received two applications in six weeks," Stafford said.

He says he's even hired his sister to help out. Other things have changed too -- like limiting customers to 12, spacers on the floor to separate customers in line, plexiglass dividers at the cash register and they're also cleaning more between customers.

"Everything from the electric pad where you pay for your orders are no longer accepting cash to eliminate that risk," he said.

Anything to keep up with the demand, because closing the store is not an option.

"We need to work to provide for our families," he said.

Ultimately, Stafford says they have had to cut their hours from 12 hours a day to eight hours a day. He said he expects those hours to stay that way until the pandemic ends and his staff returns.

The store is still looking to hire new staff members. If you're interested, stop by in person and apply. 

11Alive is focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the virus.  We want to keep you informed about the latest developments while ensuring that we deliver confirmed, factual information. 

We will track the most important coronavirus elements relating to Georgia on this page. Refresh often for new information. 

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