Brian Sheridan of Memphis, Tenn., far right, sells eclipse glasses as fast as he can while a line grows outside Maine Hardware Monday. The independent reseller ran out this morning, the day of the eclipse. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

PORTLAND — Before many visitors to Maine Hardware in Portland entered the store late Monday morning, they were greeted with the news taped to the front door: “Solar Eclipse Glasses Sold Out.”

Rick Tucker, president of Maine Hardware, said the store’s last 3,000 glasses, retailing for $4.99 each, were all gone within two hours Monday morning.

Word had spread on social media over the weekend that the store still had eclipse glasses on hand. On Sunday afternoon, an employee stood just inside the door and told each newcomer that the glasses – the basic cardboard and film variety – could be found at the front counter. One employee at the cash registers answered the phone with the words, “We still have eclipse glasses. Maine Hardware.”

By early Monday morning, people were lined up outside the store’s door and across the parking lot hoping to get the last remaining pairs.

Some had been slow to get excited about the eclipse since the city was south of the path of totality, where the moon would completely cover the sun.

Maine Hardware got its original shipment of several thousand eclipse glasses three weeks ago and it “went pretty quickly,” Tucker said


“When we saw demand spike, we got more in, thankfully,” he said.

The eclipse is “such an anomaly. We had our eye on it,” he said. The glasses are “not something we normally carry.”

Some customers bought multiple glasses, with one person picking up 60, he said.

The volume of merchandise sold, Tucker said, was the largest he’s seen in his five years at the business off St. John Street.

But while customers poured into the shop in anticipation of the first eclipse in seven years, 90% purchased only the glasses, Tucker said.

People often crowd in for emergencies, such as when big storms are forecast, he said. But those visits don’t generate comparable sales.

If only they lined up for snow blowers, which cost close to $1,000 apiece.

“I wish,” Tucker said.

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