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The butter shaker and the washing board are big sellers in the middle of coronavirus



The butter shaker and the washing board are big sellers in the middle of coronavirus

Over the years, consumers have been looking for anything that can save their time: coffee beans, food in a box, and voice-activated virtual assistants with answers to any question – no matter how crazy or ordinary. Now, with many Americans locked up in their homes in the midst of a coronavirus crisis, some buyers are looking for the opposite.

In Lehman’s, Kidron, Ohio, a hardware and tool shop, butter churn is rapidly shifting from slow sellers to hot commodities. The company’s large Dazey churn sales have increased 250% since early March, the company said Model $ 199.99 already sold out. The purchase of two small churns also tripled.

Galen Lehman, chief executive of the family business, attributed this increase to the COVID-19 pandemic, which he believes causes people to look for things that are “creative, satisfying, entertaining, and restoring when [they’re] worn.”

“I think our souls want a simpler life,” he said.

Many people in the last few months have been doing healthy hobbies at home such as baking or gardening – things that are not surprising that you usually do if you have a little time. But whipping butter?

When Americans experience a second month of shelter at home, some of them will work on a “Little House in Prairie,” pursuing anachronistic activities that they had never considered before. (Yes, the butter churn made an appearance in “Little House in the Big Woods,” the first book in the series by Laura Ingalls Wilder.)

People involved in diversions that were once needed – 150 years ago – effectively exploit a past that they have never experienced. It’s not just about shaking the butter: Traders report that sales of candles and washing boards rose dramatically.

At Lone Star Candle Supply in Fort Worth, sales of starter kits for candle makers have doubled since the outbreak began. “We were surprised, really honest,” said Blair Clark, manager of the company office. “What happened?”

That’s a good question. Unlike the relatively quick gratification of roasting a sourdough, some of this effort is tiring, with unclear or direct rewards. They are also technologies that allow us to move from – decades and decades ago.

But not surprisingly to Sue Poremba, president Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Assn. – and who is better to talk to than an “Little House” expert?

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“This is, in a sense, a survival technique,” Poremba said. “People now feel like they want to return to their sense of independence in the past.”

The logic of the border is in line with the thinking of experts about consumer behavior.

Pandemics lead to uncertainties that challenge people’s image of themselves, and this can make some people seek certainty through hard work, said Alexander Chernev, professor of marketing at Northwestern University.

“You might lose your job or wonder if you will have one in a month,” he said. “This challenges your identity and you can find various ways to assert your identity, which can lead to activities that are not always looking for the easiest. You tend to look for things that are more authentic in some ways. In this case, they need more effort. “

Others, now facing increased dependence on technology, such as virtual meetings and online shopping, can look for something that feels real, said Tom Meyvis, professor of marketing at New York University.

“Technology … is somewhat alienating and doesn’t give you full human experience,” he said. “This is not what we are programmed for – we are programmed for personal contact, touch experience. I think that’s what people are missing … so we try to meet this need in an unconscious way. “

Academics point to several other hypotheses to explain the increased interest in antiquities: families who want to entertain children trapped inside, shoppers feel nostalgic when they turn to retail therapy, or understandable desires to travel back to simpler times .

Jill Avery, a senior lecturer in the marketing unit at Harvard Business School, said that nostalgic-driven purchases can serve as talismans for buyers seeking a mental escape into “a slower, less stressful, less media-dominated, and less commercial life than offered by our contemporary life. “

“Nostalgia is a powerful motivator to buy, especially nostalgia not for our own past – which often contains positive and negative associations – but for periods in the past that we ourselves have not experienced directly,” he said.

Traders, however, have a simpler explanation. Clark, office manager at Lone Star Candle Supply, attributes an increase in sales to people who are “at home and bored, basically.”

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Sometimes in the last few weeks, the company has sold three different starter candle-making kits, each of which costs around $ 80. “We don’t expect it to be crazy like before,” he said.

Sales of candle making kits from Lone Star Candle Supply have doubled since the coronavirus outbreak began.

(Lone Star Candle Supply)

That’s not preppers or survivalists, Clark thought, who bought a candle-making kit.

“If [customers] worried about having a light source, they can only buy wax jars and wicks, “Clark said, adding that making candles isn’t a fast process.” It takes a few hours to make your first few. “

If the task doesn’t sound heavy enough, consider the washboard. Columbus Washboard Co. will be happy to sell it to you – that is, if there is stock.

According to Marissa Fickel, factory manager of the company based in Logan, Ohio, sales have tripled since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak. In normal time, he said, the company will have 20 or more orders to fill on Monday after weekend sales. On Monday in March, he and his partner came to the office to find out the company had received 120 orders.

A popular item, said Fickel, is $ 32.99 MaidRite washing board, which is family sized and includes a washing surface made of galvanized steel.

Strong demand will come during periods of intense economic uncertainty, and washing clothes this way is cheaper than using machines. That reason, coupled with health problems related to contact with others, can explain the rash of new customers.

“Most people who can’t or don’t want to go to the laundry, or people who live in apartment buildings who don’t want to use shared laundry facilities,” he said.

Before the pandemic, a much larger plot of business from the company centered on selling washing boards for musical instruments. However, now, customers “use it because they need to use it,” Fickel said. “I think it’s out of necessity.”


Columbus Washboard Co. from Logan, Ohio, has seen washboards sales tripled during the coronavirus crisis.

(Columbus Washboard Co.)

When jurisdiction began issuing orders to stay at home, Poremba, an expert on “Small Houses”, said he was not surprised to find that people began to pursue old-fashioned hobbies. And the pandemic reminded him of something in the book series.

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“[It] is about a family that survives in itself in a situation of isolation, and the family is now trying to find a way to connect with each other, “Poremba said.” I suspect many people who bought butter churns and washing boards and such … have moved away from ‘ Hey, we make our own sourdough bread ‘become’ How about we make our butter to follow it? ’”

Butter butter sold by Lehman’s is the latest version of the American classic: Dazey, which was made in 1904. Lehman bought the Dazey brand in 2013 and introduced a new version with a revised paddle that more thoroughly stirred the cream, speeding up the process.

Although sales have increased dramatically from year to year, the butter churn business remains a niche. Lehman’s has sold 43 large Dazey models since early March, whereas it usually sells for less than 10 per month.

After all this talk about butter, this reporter is interested, you know, really making it. (And eat it.) Even though the big model was sold out on the Lehman website, the Micro version for $ 29.99 – the smallest of the three – still promises “quality you know.”

After removing it from the package, the advice of an expert, farmer Karen Geiser, came to mind. He said to prepare for training.

“Right now, you need to exercise,” said Geiser, who owns a farm in rural Ohio and has used Lehman butter churn for years. “The more physical effort you put into your food, I think the better it tastes. … But there is a learning curve.”

The process is simple: Pour in the cream and turn the crank, which turns the paddle inside the churn, sending the liquid into a frenzy.

Within 10 minutes, there is a soft mound in the churn that amounts to a little more than a piece of butter – along with a portion of buttermilk that is set aside for future use (it’s good for making pancakes or crackers).

This process is satisfying, even though it really isn’t long enough to get rid of boredom, or eliminate existential fear. Although butter tastes amazing (especially spread on freshly baked bread with sea salt), churn stays on the shelf from the start.

It’s still fun to know it’s there.

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