of salt are delivered to Tomchek Ace Hardware in
Waukesha on Monday.
The store had sold out on Saturday.
WAUKESHA — A group of a dozen people waited around the
lobby of Tomchek Ace Hardware in Waukesha at noon Monday
as pallets of snow-melting ice were stacked on bare
shelves with a forklift. Employees joked that it felt
like Black Friday.
Emilie Dishno of Tomchek Ace Hardware said they were
kiddingly calling this winter the “Great Salt Shortage
There’s no denying it’s been a wacky winter weather-
wise — from mild conditions to bitterly cold and then
lots of snow and ice. While people were able to bundle
up — and sometimes stay home from work during the frigid
days — the thick layers of ice on sidewalks and
driveways this past week have forced homeowners to
battle Mother Nature with salt and shovels.
Don Dishno, manager for Tomchek Ace Hardware, said the
store sold 28 pallets of salt on Saturday during the
store’s normal business hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. A new
shipment came in Monday to restock the empty shelves.
Customers were eagerly waiting for the product. In fact,
Tomchek employees wrote down names and contact
information for more than three dozen people who needed
Mike Curtis of Waukesha got lucky Monday. He arrived at
Tomchek to buy salt shortly before the shipment arrived
by semi, not knowing that the store had been sold out.
He only had to wait a short while to purchase 10 bags
for his driveway, which he said went unsalted while he
was out of town.
In West Bend, Todd Tennies, an owner of Tennies Ace
Hardware, said he has had customers coming from
neighboring Dodge and Ozaukee counties to purchase salt.
He said the business, which has locations in West Bend,
Kewaskum and Jackson, sold 70 pallets of salt in five
days. Each pallet contained 49 50-pound salt bags.
“It’s selling as fast as I can put it on the shelves,”
Tennies said, who owns the family business with brothers
David and Terry.
While Tennies said many residents and businesses were
caught off guard with the need for salt, he wasn’t. And
when he ran out of salt, he was able to get more quickly
as a small business versus a big box store because of
But when he was out of salt for melting sidewalk and
driveway ice, he had to switch to selling water softener
“This is unbelievable,” he said.
Dishno said it’s important for people to rid their
sidewalks and driveways of ice completely.
To do so, he suggests using salt to loosen up the ice
and then use a shovel to take it off the pavement. If
not, it could refreeze. He also said there is a fine
line between using too much and too little salt. Too
little and it won’t remove the ice and too much and it
could damage the pavement.
Ace Hardware offers different kinds of ice-removing
products, Dishno said, including pet-safe salt and
liquid chemicals, as well as calcium chloride which is
really efficient at removing ice but is not good for
Dishno recommends that people salt early to prevent ice
from building up.
Tennies thinks the icy areas are only going to get more
slippery as snow falls.
He also advises people to go to their local hardware
stores to find shovels, snowblowers, ice-melting
products and for help.