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‘Puzzles are huge right now!’: COVID-19 pandemic has people finding ways to keep busy

Click to play video '‘Puzzles are huge right now!’: COVID-19 pandemic gets people hunting for ways to keep busy at home' ‘Puzzles are huge right now!’: COVID-19 pandemic gets people hunting for ways to keep busy at home
Spending so much time isolated at home is turning out to be quite a challenge for a lot of people. And many are now looking for relief by keeping busy with new pursuits and old favourites. Gil Tucker reports – Apr 23, 2020

Spending so much time isolated at home because of the COVID-19 restrictions is turning out to be quite a challenge for a lot of people.

And many are now looking for relief by keeping busy with new pursuits and old favourites.

Businesses that support those activities are now scrambling to keep up with increased demand.

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One such company is The Discovery Hut, a toy and games store located in Chinook Centre mall in southwest Calgary.

“Puzzles are huge right now!” store owner Randy Shapiro said.

“Jigsaw puzzles are like the toilet paper of our industry – very high demand.”

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Shapiro’s staff are spending hours contacting suppliers, hunting for puzzles all over the world.

“(Suppliers in) Europe, Asia, the States, Canada,” Shapiro said. “The suppliers, because of the pandemic, they’ve shifted their business model a bit and have cut back to a skeletal staff.”

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With its store closed, The Discovery Hut has shifted to offering free delivery and curbside pickup at Chinook Centre, with many customers ordering board games and LEGO.

“People just want some degree of normalcy during this time, they want something to do with their kids,” Shapiro said.

“Elderly people want something to do and they want something to take their minds off of the doom and gloom, and they want to still be able to celebrate special occasions, like birthdays and Easter.”

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Many people are heading to dollar stores to buy items for those celebrations.

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“They’re looking for balloons, paper plates,” Mayland Heights Loonie Plus owner Punja Wagle said. “Maybe they want to have some family moments right now, because they can’t go outside and have fun with the family.”

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And for those long hours inside, many customers are picking up supplies for doing crafts.

“They want to engage their kids,” Wagle said. “(Instead of) a lot of time with computers, they want their kids to be more creative.”

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Many adults are now getting in touch with their creative side by stocking up at paint stores.

“People are looking for things nowadays so that they’re not going crazy in their house,” Balance Paint & Decor owner Theresa Reynolds said.

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“They are painting the bedrooms or we’ve got some people who’ve just purchased their houses before COVID got them (housebound) and so they’re looking to complete the project.”

Reynolds says it’s making for a busier-than-usual spring season at her store.

“We’ve got some people that have been putting off projects because they’ve been too busy working and now they’ve got time on their hands,” Reynolds said.

“Why not work together and create something beautiful?”