Traverse City News and Events

From Books To Boots, Supply Chain Issues Are Hitting Local Retailers This Holiday Season

By Craig Manning | Dec. 1, 2021

What’s on your shopping list this holiday season? If it’s a pair of winter boots, the latest bestselling book, or a bottle of expensive champagne, you might be out of luck. Global supply chain issues have officially hit home here in Traverse City. Here's what The Ticker is hearing from four local retailers about how they’re navigating it all, their hardest-to-get products right now, and what advice they have for shoppers.

The Blue Goat (Catherine Cavender, beverage manager)
Supply chain challenge: Champagne. Veuve Clicquot, Moët, and Dom Perignon are especially hard to get. Even New Zealand sauvignon blanc is getting scarce. Many wines are on their way, but there is no telling if they will be here for the holidays or sometime next year. Another issue: When wines finally do arrive, the prices have gone up.
Hard-to-find gift: Again, champagne and New Zealand sauvignon blancs are becoming harder to find and will be in high demand. Other wines we expect to be in high demand would be cabernet sauvignons – such as Caymus and Cakebread – along with other high-end or specialty wines like Bordeaux and Burgundy.
Holiday shopping tip: Shop with small businesses like us, where the staff know the product and can help you find something new and exciting to try. We may not be able to find all our favorite things this year, but we may find some new favorites.

Brilliant Books (Peter Makin, owner)
Supply chain challenge: When the publishing industry miscalculates an initial print run – by underestimating the demand for a book – there will now be an awfully long delay before there's another print run [of that title]. Normally, there’d be a constant replenishment: As things are selling through, there’d be new print runs. But there are all sorts of pressures [on the book supply chain] – from paper supplying, to how much capacity there is for printing, to when we can get the actual books shipped to us. We’ve been buying a lot more than we would normally be buying, so that we won't have to try to replenish. We’ve already bought pretty much everything we hope we will need for Christmas.
Hard-to-find gift: Stanley Tucci’s book, Taste: My Life Through Food, was no. 1 on the bestsellers list, and we couldn't get it for 2-3 weeks because everybody was waiting for another reprint. The book that's going to happen to next, I think, is Paul McCartney’s The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present. We've been told by suppliers that the next print run won't be until February, so unless you buy it before Christmas, you will not see it.
Holiday shopping tip: If you're in a bookstore and you see a book that you want, just buy it, because it might not be there tomorrow. And the idea of, ‘Oh, we'll get it somewhere else.’ Well, if it doesn't exist, you won't. I think that's one of the things people miss with books. If they only make 30,000 of them, that’s it; there are no more [until a reprint].

Golden Shoes (Bill Golden, owner)
Supply chain nightmare: Some of the stuff I ordered a year ago that was scheduled for September, October, or November got cancelled – even though they were ordered out a year in advance. The product never got made, or they didn't make enough of it, or it's on a boat. That's been tough, because those were things that we planned on [for the winter season]. And then you’re out of luck, because the stuff isn’t even there [to order from somewhere else]. I called three different companies this morning, and not one company had any winter boots shipping before February.
Hard-to-find gift: Winter boots have been the worst. People are coming in [for boots] –especially for kids – and they can't find any product anywhere. I probably had 250 pairs that I had on order that got cancelled. Some suppliers are saying, ‘We’re going to have them in May.’ But winter boots aren’t going to sell in May.
Holiday shopping tip: If you see something you want – I don't care if it's shoes, boots, electronics, anything – you have to buy it today. Because somebody is probably standing behind you in line that's going to buy it.

M22 (Nick Madrick, COO)
Supply chain challenge: The supply chain, for us, hasn't been too crazy of an issue. We saw it coming and were able to kind of get ahead of it before most of the things that we get from suppliers were out. That doesn't mean it worked perfectly: There were certainly some product styles or colors where we had to call an audible and say, ‘I can't get this material, but can I maybe replace it with something similar, or change the color variant’ As a small business, we’re able to pivot quickly. But our biggest issue this holiday season has actually been personnel. At our production facility, we had a ton of product; it was just a matter of being able to get through it all to produce the product and get it into inventory.
Hard-to-find gift: Our flannels have been really hot for us this season, and they’re moving a lot quicker than we figured. Trying to keep up with that demand, given the supply chain, is definitely difficult. We’ve run into a couple of situations where we’ve had to say, ‘Ok, that color of that flannel we made was awesome; can I get more? Nope, I can't get more.’ One of the colors, we’re almost out of right now. I’ve got some coming to help fill stock, but once I run out, I’m out.
Holiday shopping tip: Be patient. We're all just trying to do the best job that we can, and to offer the best products and the best experience with our stores and service. And it’s tough with a limited staff. If customers can come into the holiday shopping season knowing that ahead of time, it makes for a better overall experience – not only for themselves but also for the people that are trying to pack and ship their orders.

Despite supply chain issues, there is good news for local shoppers. Abby Taylor, downtown experience coordinator for the Traverse City Downtown Development Authority (DDA), confirms that Men’s Night and Ladies’ Night are both still on for 2021 – even after the DDA called off last month’s tree lighting ceremony due to COVID-19 concerns.

Ladies’ Night is December 9; Men’s Night is December 16. Both events run 5-9pm. Taylor says it will be up to each business to decide whether to participate, whether to serve food or alcohol (a traditional component of Men’s and Ladies’ Night at participating stores), and whether to require masking or other COVID precautions.

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