With Hurricane Sandy barreling toward the Northeast, the activity Friday at Thayer's Hardware & Patio is nothing compared to what happened as Hurricane Irene was on its way to Long Island in 2011, according to employees.
Bridgehampton residents have trickled Friday asking for flashlights, lanterns, batteries and coolers, but employee Owen Barbour said the scene was much different a little over a year ago. "Last time, we had lines out the door," he said. "Everywhere around here ran out of flashlights and batteries."
"It was a lot crazier last time," Barbour recalled. "I think last time, it caught people off guard."
Plus, he said, in the month of August, when Irene hit last year, the population is 10 times what it is in October. Now, many vacation homes are vacant, he said, and year-rounders may still be stocked up on supplies they bought when preparing for Irene.
Barbour said tarps and rope are also popular items prior to a severe storm, as is tape for windows, though he noted that putting tape on windows will not help anything in a storm — despite the conventional wisdom.
The store also gets requests for generators, but Thayer's is not big enough to keep them in stock, Barbour said.
Many customers wait until the last minute to stock up, he said, warning that items do sell out, despite Thayer's efforts to order the right amount of supplies. "It's hard to judge, but we try out best."
"My advice: Don't go crazy," Barbour said. "Get the staples, get your batteries, flashlights." Expect the power to go out, "because it always does," and wait it out with a good book, he said.
He pointed out that no one seems to think to buy other items they might need until a storm has passed. Then, there is a rush on chainsaws, chain oil and rakes.