People are not in the dark about potential problems. Home generators and woodstoves have been in high demand. Worries of Y2K light a fire under sales of self-reliance items : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

From my kinda local newspaper, The Philadelphia Inquirer dated today <:)=

As the clock ticks toward Dec. 31, fears of a cold, dark, dangerous winter are sparking a rise in sales for certain industries. For them, the Y2K business equation is 00=$$.

Sales of home generators, for example, have soared, said a dealer in Folcroft, Delaware County.

Woodstove sales are smoking, a company in Medford, Burlington County, reported.

And several gun dealers in the area have had a 10 percent to 15 percent increase in sales during 1999.

Rhonda Briggs, 49, of Waterford, Camden County, bought a woodstove this month and plans to buy a solar-powered flashlight and plenty of canned food and bottled water.

There are no guarantees, she said, that possible computer glitches at the turn of the year will not force people to go without utilities for an extended period.

"I think anybody who really looks into it, investigates it further than what they hear, will find out that no one knows for sure what will happen," said Briggs, a single mother with two children.

Woodstoves have roared back into competition with their modern, natural-gas counterparts, with dealers saying sales have hit the highest level in years.

Ed Letts, co-owner of Stoveworks in Medford, said Y2K concerns had "refueled the industry" by tripling his orders for woodstoves during 1998. Overall business is up for stove and fireplace dealers by about 25 percent, with some store owners saying 75 percent of their woodstove customers are Y2K-motivated.

Generator manufacturers are barely keeping pace with unprecedented demand, especially after Hurricane Floyd, retailers said.

Business is brisk, said Mike Lenahan, assistant manager of Modern Equipment Rentals in Bristol, Bucks County.

Several dealers said that their home generator sales had increased by almost 30 percent from last year and that manufacturers of industrial generators lagged weeks behind on orders.

"Industrywide, it's going crazy. The generator companies can't make them fast enough," said Chuck Mancini of Power Equipment Co. in Hainesport, Burlington County.

New Jersey gun dealers say Y2K fears have mixed with paranoia about future antigun legislation to boost their business by 10 percent to 15 percent from last year.

Their customers fear that looting and rioting will follow a breakdown in municipal control, dealers said. "Some people know that self-survival is an instinct," said Paul Hoffman, owner of Sportsmen's Paradise in Atco, Camden County.

Gun dealers said one in four or five of their customers was motivated by Y2K fear.

Occasionally a nervous caller to the Arctic Wolf Spring Water Co. in Westville, Gloucester County, will ask the price of hundreds of gallons of bottled water or will inquire of Country Gas Service in Maple Shade, Burlington County, about a 500-gallon propane tank, which is about five times as large as most household propane tanks.

Water and fuel companies also are inundated with callers concerned about continued service.

"They ask us if we foresee any problems with deliveries and the answer, of course, is no," said Steve Struble, manager of Valley National Gases Inc. in Croydon, Bucks County.

A report released last week by the U.S. Senate Special Committee on the Year 2000 Technology Problem said some industries, including local public transport and small health-care centers, could suffer severe disruptions.

Utilities and water systems generally say they are ready, although the report cautioned that local and even regional blackouts could occur and that water authorities may have "isolated malfunctions." Telecommunications and the finance sector appeared well-prepared, the report said.

But it also encouraged people to check for themselves about whether their routines would be disrupted.

Business owners said they had not raised prices to take advantage of ballooning demand and rising fears. However, at least one woodstove dealer knows of a firewood seller who has raised prices by 15 percent for a cord. Others in the industry speculated that wood prices could rise as demand burns up available stocks.

Robert Snoke, owner of Fireplace Specialties Inc. in Somerdale, Camden County, who has sold wood and gas stoves since 1971, said this year's rush reminded him of the 1970s and '80s, when oil and gas prices were volatile and consumers scrambled to install woodstoves and fireplaces.

"We haven't seen the same kind of panic yet, but I think it's going to come out of the woodwork here pretty soon," Snoke predicted, calling the recent cold snap and rainy weather a wake-up call that Y2K is not far away.

At anywhere from $2,100 to $3,500 for the stove, chimney, parts and installation, such purchases are not frivolous.

The red-lettered sign outside Snoke's shop reads: "Y (2K) worry? Woodstoves!"

"We are using the Y2K to sell the stoves, but we also have a lot of people asking," said Rose Elentrio, Snoke's wife and business partner.

Earl Marshall, owner of the Fireplace People in Berlin Township, Camden County, said he was seeing his usual "blue-collar" customers in addition to the "professionals," who he said generally preferred the ease of flicking a switch on a natural-gas stove.

He said he consistently sold stoves during the summer, which in any other year is "unheard of."

Bruce Ormsby, whose Williamstown, Gloucester County, wood-products business, Ormsby's Firewood Factory, is next to a woodstove dealer, saw his firewood deliveries booked up about a month earlier than usual. Many of his new customers have just bought woodstoves from his neighbor.

Other dealers have not seen any preseason business, but they expect Y2K fear will drive up demand after two soft years.

"We're hoping to capitalize on Y2K. That's what our advertisement scheme will be when I start advertising in the newspaper" on Oct. 1, said Peggy Bergholz, who helps run a land-clearing and firewood business in Monroeville, Salem County, "I'm just going to say, 'Are you ready? It's Y2K.' "

But firewood could develop its own unique shortage once temperatures drop significantly, dealers said. Wood for fuel needs six weeks to six months - depending on temperature and humidity - to dry out.

"[Demand] could become really furious yet. But the problem is that when it does become furious, there's only a limited amount of wood that's prepared," Ormsby said.

Home-generator retailers, who have reported high demand for most of the year, said the last two cool, rainy weeks brought an increase in sales.

To cope with possible shortages, Home Depot outlets have added a third brand.One independent dealer, David Mattocks of Eastern Generator Sales & Service Inc., Folcroft, said sales of the smallest standby generator model drove the increase in his business this year, estimating that the $2,000 model sold 10 to 20 times as many units as last year.

"As soon as they can produce them and we can get them on the shelf, they're flying out of our store," said Chip Powers, manager of the Home Depot store in Westampton, Burlington County.

Gun dealers described their Y2K customers as a blend of first-time buyers and repeat customers who confess their fears to store proprietors.

Chris Ciko, a salesman at the Sportsmen's Center in Bordentown, Burlington County, has seen the fear that has struck some novices who buy more than one weapon. "People are panicking with that stuff. There are a lot of people who think the world's coming to an end," he said.

Most retailers say inflated gun sales earlier in the year were pinned to Y2K fears. But several Pennsylvania dealers said that since media hype about the subject had subsided, sales dipped to last year's levels. But one said he had stocked up on ammunition because of customer requests.

Brian Sisz, manager of the Sportsmen's Center, described himself as a gun owner who thinks Y2K worries are legitimate. "Did I buy another gun for Y2K? No. Am I going to sit on my porch at 11:30 p.m. on Dec. 31 with a sawed-off shotgun? No," he said.

Jim Colosimo, who owns Colosimo's Gun Center in Philadelphia, said he was afraid of potential Y2K problems. But for a different reason.

Each gun sale requires a background check, which is reliant on computer systems, he said. "If the computers should go down, and it's down for a week, that means we close up for a week because I can't sell anything. That's my fear."

-- Sysman (, September 26, 1999


Wouldn't it be just like the government to screw up their background check computers to stop the sale of guns? It's too late anyways for them to do that because there are sooooooo many guns in the public's hands right now that a computer glitch won't matter--except for those who snoozed too long.

-- bardou (, September 26, 1999.

No, Bardou, if you read the law, it CLEARLY states that if the computers are down, the seller may go right ahead and sell teh gun with no check at all. Now, some gun shop owners are not doing that because they are afraid of repercussions, but the law clearly says that they may sell them if the computers are down. The government may NOT hinder businesses if their computers are down.

-- Paul Milne (, September 27, 1999.

* * * 19990927 Monday

-- Paul Milne (, September 27, 1999, wrote:

"No, Bardou, if you read the law, it CLEARLY states that if the computers are down, the seller may go right ahead and sell teh gun with no check at all. Now, some gun shop owners are not doing that because they are afraid of repercussions, but the law clearly says that they may sell them if the computers are down. The government may NOT hinder businesses if their computers are down."


Can you cite the law ( possibly a URL? ) your assertion of: "if the computers are down, the seller may go right ahead and sell teh gun with no check at all."

In light of all the STANDING Executive Orders--that Congress has yet to officially rebuke--all bets are off except in the minds and hearts of the hopelessly naive citizen!

Regards, Bob Mangus

* * *

-- Robert Mangus (, September 27, 1999.

[Correcting erroneous e-mail address above. My apologies!]

-- Robert Mangus (, September 27, 1999.

Paul is correct. After THREE days of "no answer" on a background check (for WHATEVER reason), the sale is allowed to continue. Call your local BATF office and ask them. They'll tell you, no URL required...

-- Dennis (, September 27, 1999.

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