CALGARY -- Businesses specializing in outdoor spaces and keeping people warm are overwhelmed with calls from Calgarians looking to extend their living space in the pandemic.

For the last eight years, Jim Giroux’s business has been fire wood at . Giroux says this year it’s the busiest he’s ever seen it. Giroux says it’s hard to keep the product in stock this year because business has increased by 300 per cent.

“Of course it’s because of the pandemic,” said Giroux. “Everybody’s at home just like everybody’s shopping online, (and) when there’s nothing to do, have a fire.”

His product comes from northern Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan. Trucks are delivering every few days but his warehouse - which he said is normally stacked to the ceiling - looks bare.

“We just got a trailer (full of wood)  in a day before yesterday, two trailers in actually this week,” said Giroux. “And (the fire wood is already) gone, so as fast as it comes in, it goes out.”

Livable outdoor spaces

 Desert Sun Patios creates livable outdoor spaces. General manager Bob Whiteside said he’s seeing an increased volume of estimates in the last few months.

“A lot of people are stuck at home and they and they realize everything needs a bit of repair,” said Whiteside. “Vacations are tougher to go by, camping is tougher to go by so they’re just making their outdoor space a lot more usable, a lot more comfortable.”

Whiteside said some of his clients have sold their U.S. properties because they can’t head south for the winter so they’re looking to enclose their decks with a sunroom.

“A lot of it is just put a roof over top of the deck to keep the rain and the snow off their deck or a screen room so they’re just looking to beautify and get more use out of their outdoor space,” said Whiteside.

A boom in patio heaters

Joanne Bosch is a sales administrator with Calcana Industries.  It supplies garage, residential and commercial patio heaters to clients. Bosch says the office is getting over 100 calls a day from potential clients.

“We’re always busy at this time of year but it typically slows down for patios,” said Bosch. “Then we’re doing a lot of garage heaters and industrial indoor heaters so we weren’t expecting this many patio heaters at this time of year.”

diane brisebois

Many of the calls are from people looking to extend their patio season and spend more time outside with friends during the pandemic.

“They want to heat their patios so they can have people outside and still entertain friends and family,” said Bosch. “Restaurants want to be able to have more patrons so they’re trying to extend their patio season as well being able to fit more people in.”

The challenge for all of these industries is the supply chain. In many cases shipments from south of the border take longer to arrive here or products are back ordered. So it may take a few more days or weeks to convert those outdoor spaces than in years past.