Walnut sales hold steady as hardwood dealers adapt

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Walnut, especially with a live edge, continues to sell well, according to hardwood suppliers interviewed by Woodshop News, who also provided updates on overall market conditions during the pandemic.

Clint Dillon of Steve Wall Lumber in Mayodan, N.C. said his facility is open and has seen an uptick in sales for online orders.

“Walnut’s been doing pretty well. We sold a lot of live edge walnut during March and April, but walnut’s always popular for us. It’s always one of our popular woods every single month, every single year. The biggest question is what’s it going to be like after this is all over with? Will people have any money when all this is done?”

Bob Laurie of L.L. Johnson Lumber Mfg. Co. in Charlotte, Mich. says while nothing’s selling the way it was before the pandemic, walnut sorted for color was moving well.

“People want all heart or as much heart as they can get,” says Laurie. “We’re semi-open. All the office people are working from home and we’re allowing curbside pick-up. Technically we’re an essential business, according to Homeland Security anyway, so we were closed for two weeks then we reopened on a limited basis.”

“People love walnut,” says Bob Putnam of Rare Woods U.S.A. in Mexico, Maine. “We have prime, one common and we have some beautiful figured walnut, and they’re all moving just fine. In our area people have a hard time finding it so we have it and we love to sell it to them. We’re online order only and we’ve been crazy busy. “

Dave Norman of Parkerville Wood Products in Manchester, Conn. says walnut is still a great seller, but sales have gone down due to the pandemic.

“I think people are a little money conscious right now. We’ve seen them making larger orders for and stockpiling less expensive woods like poplar, red oak and ash,” says Norman.

Jerry Anton of O’Shea Lumber in Glen Rock, Pa. says walnut was slightly less popular than some of the lighter hued species even before the pandemic.

“We’re mostly wholesale, and some of the projects we’re supplying material for are big areas like kitchens where the customer wants to paint the wood. Walnut would generally be stained so instead they’re looking more towards something like maple,” says Anton. “We closed down for two weeks in March. The whole thing was so confusing to all of the businesses then we found out we could remain open because of what we do here.” 

This article originally appeared in the June 2020 issue.

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