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Home-improvement stores aim for better future

Posted February 20, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

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— Although sales are down dramatically at home-improvement stores, vendors at the Raleigh Spring Home Show displayed their wares, hoping for an uptick in upgrades.

This weekend, the floor at the Raleigh Convention Center will be covered with items that can turn your house into your dream home.

Home show_02 Future customers target of spring home show

Some show attendees said on Friday that they were at least in the market for ideas.

"We have a new home, but we still have some upgrades we want to do and keep up with what's new," Joann Handschuh, of Cary, said.

While Handschuh's first upgrade – a shower head – was easy enough to purchase, some business owners said their sales have plunged 25 percent from last year.

"There's just a lot of uncertainty, and so people aren't going to necessarily commit as they would have in the past," said Tara Onthank, owner of Rising Sun Pools.

Customers willing to spend tens of thousands on home improvement might also face a new challenge: getting loans.

"At the end of last year, a lot of people weren't getting financed that normally would have," Onthank said.

Brandy Murphy said that while her business, Benchmark Kitchen & Bath, has seen slower sales, remodeling remains a cheaper way to spruce up their digs, than buying a new house.

"We have a lot of people who are interested in bathroom remodels, because that is small compared to a kitchen remodel," Murphy said.

Vendors at the Raleigh show said they were also aiming at attracting future customers. Home-improvement projects usually peak in spring.

"It is tempting," Handschuh said. "I'm going to try to talk my husband into buying a sauna for the house."

The Raleigh Spring Home Show is open through Sunday.

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  • Just2bMe Feb 20, 2009

    I love to get ideas from others that I might be able to do myself... and if I can't do it all, I might be able to do some and be happy with that.

    Anything to save money along the way.