Local businesses overcome inventory shortages across multiple industries

Published: Apr. 15, 2021 at 12:16 PM EDT
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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) - Production on everything from furniture, cars and yes..of course toilet paper.. has been slow over the past year. Customers and retailers here in The County are still noticing longer than usual wait times, but those eager to purchase are also willing to be patient.

“No one was prepared for how great consumer demand would be and it just snowballed from there, from raw materials to human resources to shipping,” said Kelley Fitzpatrick, general manager of Furniture and Floors North in Houlton.

Local businesses are overcoming manufacturing, transport, and material shortages to provide services to customers, but those services come with a wait. Fitzpatrick says inventory comes in every week, but customers are learning to have patience.

“The majority are understanding because they’re really hearing it for whatever they’re looking for wherever they go,” said Fitzpatrick. “Because it’s not just the furniture industry. It’s pretty much every industry.”

Shawn Huston at Griffeth Honda says they were lucky they overloaded on inventory last year.

“I know that there are inventory issues in terms of trying to find used cars,” said Huston.

And other dealerships are getting inventive to keep business moving. Carroll’s Auto has started pre-selling inventory so customers can reserve a sale before it goes on the lot, and making efforts to increase their used car inventory.

“We are creating our own inventory. We have even gone so far as having our sales people find us vehicles... So were trying all kinds of creative avenues to find more inventory,” said Chris Robinson, sales manager.

And industries that specialize in special occasions are beginning to see more demand as capacity limitations relax, but supply is still stunted.

“Colors we tend to do well with, but specific flowers we can’t be too picky with the market the way it is,” said Amy McLellan, owner of Amy’s Flowers.

She says brides and grooms are seizing the opportunity to hold weddings again, and that she is as busy as ever, but she’s lucky to have close relationships with her wholesalers.

“We’re really going to experience some availability shortages for Mothers’ Day because every florist is looking for the same flowers I am, so the sooner you order, the better.”

The shortages stretch beyond cars, furniture and flowers.

“It’s been a real lesson in patience in this day an age where we’re used to getting things a lot more quickly,” said Fitzpatrick.

But all say that they have been supported by customers who continue to stick by local businesses.

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