As soon as employees showed up to work on Monday morning at Herrick Hardware in Southampton Village, customers started knocking on the door.
At the last minute, many came looking for batteries, flashlights, lanterns, oil lamps and more, to prepare for Hurricane Sandy.
"Everybody gets into a panic mode when they hear a storm's coming," sales representative Mark Halsey said.
Though the store is typically open from 7:30 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. on a weekday, with the winds picking up, the decision was made to close early Monday, at 1 p.m., to allow employees to get home safe and prepare themselves and their own families for the hurricane.
"It was pretty well cleared out," Halsey said of the storm supplies by the time the store closed. But an order of more essentials arrived that afternoon, so Herrick Hardware would be ready for Tuesday's post-storm rush.
Paul Monroe, a sales clerk at Herrick, said the most popular items are D-cell batteries and 6-volt lantern batteries. They typically sell out, along with lamp oil, he said.
On Tuesday afternoon, Monroe had to inform a disappointed caller by telling him that Herrick Hardware does not carry generators. He said that the store does not stock any gas-powered products because they are returned too frequently. What usually happens is that a customer brings it back within a week saying it isn't working, but when an employee checks it, the problem is something simple — like it is out of gas.
That includes gas powered chainsaws, but Herrick Hardware does have electric saws. Although, Monroe said, during a power outage it is obviously the hand saws that are most popular. The store does carry chain oil and lubricant for two-cycle engines, as well as propane.
Now in the aftermath of the storm, Monroe said batteries are still hot items, as well as coolers, rope, easy-light logs, USB chargers for cars, extension cords and rakes — anything one might need after being hit by a storm.
There is a sign at the check-out counter: No returns on hurricane supplies.
On Friday in Bridgehampton at Thayer's Hardware & Patio, employees said that storm-preppers were slow to trickle in, but they expected the pace to pick up when the storm got closer, as is typical before a big weather event.