Ontario hardware store skirts lockdown orders allowing in-store shopping
ALCONA, ONT. -- It was business as usual at the Home Hardware Building Centre in Alcona on Friday as customers walked into the store despite Ontario's lockdown rules.
Contractors seemed pleased to find the doors open on Friday.
"It's hard to get material, obviously. Thank god these guys are open," said Joe McInnis.
Chandler Boss admitted he was surprised but happy to find the hardware store open amid the shutdown. "It's actually helped out quite a bit. Coming to get some wire for working on some machines and stuff."
Hardware stores aren't deemed to be an essential service and should be closed to in-store shopping during the lockdown, offering curbside pickup or delivery only, but the owners in Alcona decided to remain open anyway.
South Simcoe Police Chief Andrew Fletcher said they have been working with the store's owners most of the week. "We were a little frustrated that this store was kind of thumbing its nose at it a little bit, and try to push the envelope a little bit because what they do others want to do."
The owners declined to speak with CTV News, but Fletcher said the issue was that they tried to find a loophole with the lockdown.
"They've stocked their shelves with some dry goods and some other food supplies to try and make the determination they're being considered a big box store, which in our interpretation of the regulations, they did not fit that definition."
Home Hardware Stores Ltd. sent a statement to CTV News saying in part, "All of our stores are independently owned, and we advise each one to follow provincial and local guidelines.
As a national retailer, we recognize retail restrictions are different across the country. Here in Ontario, we expect all of our stores to operate with curbside pickup and delivery only."
By noon on Friday, the store closed to in-person shopping, offering curbside pickup and delivery only.
Mike McCarthy said, given the situation, the store should close its doors. "If it's a mandated law, then it's a mandated law. Everybody has to shutdown. I'm just glad I got to pick up my snowblower."
While the police chief said he understands the challenges small businesses face, everyone needs to respect the rules. "Right now, we just need to do the right thing for at least the next 28 days."
Fletcher said the fine for staying open during the lockdown is $1,000 and could go as high as $100,000.