LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Small businesses in Mid-Michigan are feeling the pressure to keep up inventory despite demand at record levels.
The upcoming holiday season, combined with supply chain issues is only making that tougher.
That’s why with customers on facetime, Lynn Ross, owner of Mother & Earth Baby Boutique, searches high and low to make sure they get exactly what they want.
“Thank you so much for all of your help,” one customer says through the phone.
Ross expanded her store starting in September and says she started planning for a unique holiday season back then.
“I spent weeks in my office on the phone, calling vendors, finding new vendors, figuring out where our product is and when it’s going to be here,” Ross said. “And if it won’t be here, what can we replace it with?”
Even though she says she’s found a dozen new suppliers from various parts of the world, at times, she still must share bad news about her inventory.
“I don’t think so,” she told the same customer over the phone on if she would receive an item before Christmas. “I mean I ordered it back in April and we didn’t get it.”
Ross says it’s one of several inevitable changes this holiday season.
“In the past, we would wait thorough black Friday and see what are those hot sellers and we would be prepared to place those orders,” she said. “That’s just probably not going to be an option (this year).”
Supply chain issues limiting what items stores have and when they have it isn’t a unique problem to Mid-Michigan, according to Jason Miller, a supply chain professor at Michigan State University.
“You can expect as consumers especially from your smaller retailers and wholesalers there’s more likely to be shortages as we move into the holiday season,” Miller said.
However, Miller also said calling the America’s supply chain system ‘broken’ would be misleading.
“It’s not broken, again we’ve been processing 20% more imports this year than we did in 2019,” he said. “Broken systems don’t work 20% higher, or process 20% more goods.”
However, that doesn’t mean there’s good news for customers or retailers this holiday season.
“Right now, there is no short-term fix,” he said. “That’s one thing that everybody has to understand.”
That’s why Miller and Ross say this year more than ever, it’s important to shop early and get what you can when you can.
“I’m not worried about having enough toys,” Ross said. “But that one specific item, if you see it now, get it. Because if we run out, I don’t know if we will get more (before Christmas).”