Shops battle supply chain woes

Published: Nov. 24, 2021 at 6:41 PM EST
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - We’ve heard a lot about how the pandemic has thrown a wrench in the global supply chain and affected major retailers, like Walmart and Amazon.

WTOC Investigates even gave you an up-close look at dozens of cargo ships, some filled with holiday gifts, just sitting off our coast waiting to be delivered.

But what you may not know - is that it affects all retailers, big and small.

It’s hurting some of our local shops and it’s a lot harder for them to recover. But it’s not all bad news.

“These local small businesses have really been hit hard by the pandemic,” said Jackie Schott, Executive Director of Downtown Business Association.

A global supply chain backlog has some local shops scrambling to get the supplies they need in time for the holiday rush. But many shops also see the hurdle as an opportunity.

Take Planet Fun. The funky shop off Whitaker Street is stocked with items, that are already sold-out at some major retailers. A prime example of that? Pokémon cards!

Owner John Croley says people are desperate for the stocking-stuffers. Problem is, he says scalpers are buying-up all the cards at big retailers and then re-selling them, at much higher prices.

“They’re scalping Pokémon cards,” Croley said.

You heard that right, scalping Pokémon cards! Croley says this new pandemic low is hurting kids the most.

“It’s really frustrating, and weird,” Croley said.

But Croley isn’t letting it fly in his shop. He limits customers to three packs, per-person. It’s costing him money but he says, it’s worth it.

The kind of customer service you may not see, from a big retailer.

“Giving them the opportunity to actually buy what they want to buy is something that I do really care about,” Croley said.

Local shops like Croley’s are getting by. But make no mistake shipping delays are costing some a lot of money.

“You just have to kind of get creative,” said Tara Kirkland, owner of Custard Boutique.

Kirkland says supply chain slowdowns overseas, impact everything, even locally-sourced products.

“Although a lot of my products are made in the United States, it doesn’t mean every component comes from the United States. For instance, there’s been a glass shortage, which has affected our candles and cocktail jars, and things like that,” Kirkland said.

And Kirkland says, it’s not just the delays. Those same supplementary products they’ve bought for years now cost way more.

But it’s not stopping these local shops from keeping their shelves, stocked. And people close to the issue say at a time when so many people, are waiting weeks, even months, for their gifts to arrive, that is invaluable.

“So, a lot of our clothing stores that only purchase clothes made in America - those clothes are in their shop right now. They’re not sitting out on a container ship waiting to come to us,” said Schott.

This Saturday is Small Business Saturday. More than two dozen businesses have come-together - to give shoppers a chance, to win a lot of money in gift cards... in a game of Bingo! It’s called Downtown Savannah Bingo.

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