By Steve Tawa

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – There was nary a show shovel to be found at a few of the big hardware stores along Columbus Boulevard in Philadelphia on Monday afternoon, but if you want to get a jump on outdoor grills and other springtime items, they’ve got you covered.

At one of the big box stores, it looked like the only wintertime staple left was 40-pound bags of “Blizzard Wizzard” ice melt. One guy slung a pack over his shoulder, saying it was “only a precaution.”

Another man familiar with the store sized up the snow shovel merchandise.  In his words, there were “none to be had.”

Then he made a whooshing sound, saying there had been tons of them but they went with the last big storm.  “Garden shovels are pretty much gone, too. Snow blowers are gone.  Nothing.  Anything that can move snow or chop ice is gone.”

(Steve Tawa:) “How about mulch?”

“They’ve got plenty of that.”

Another guy, in an Eagles jacket, summed it up: “If you don’t have it by now, you’ve missed the boat this winter.”

(Tawa:) “I’m looking at rakes and mulch. Were you looking at grills in there?”

“Yeah, that’s what we got, a grill cover.”

Based on their critical floor displays, most stores, like many of us, are ready to spring forward.

“I also saw there were grills and swings for the summer. I think it’s wishful thinking.”

One store employee recalls that at one time they had so many snow blowers, they put the overflow merchandise outside.  Now those bins only include lawn mowers, power washers, and outdoor grills.

(A listener called the KYW newsroom early Tuesday morning to report that an S&H Hardware store on Castor Avenue had plenty of shovels in stock on Monday evening — he had bought two.)

Reported by Steve Tawa, KYW Newsradio 1060.

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