Quarantine Series: Supply Chain, Shipping & Materials

I’m sure that most people have learned far more about supply chains over the course of the pandemic than they ever wanted to know. Everyone remembers the run on toilette paper at the beginning, and how hard it was to find disinfectant wipes for many months. There are currently shortages of lumber, steel, microchips, and ketchup packets, to name a few.

The Barn has not been immune from supply chain disruptions, as well some other pandemic factors that will cause some noticeable changes at The Barn. So, we thought we would fill everyone in.

The Barn carries both antiques and newly made items. This article only deals with newly made or reproduction items. You will not notice any significant changes to the antiques we carry. The pandemic has not had a significant effect on our supply of antiques.

If you’ve been paying any attention at all to the news over the last few months you’ve probably already heard of the current sky-high demand for consumer goods and the coming inflation. A lot of items are getting harder to come by, and wait time are increasing for just about everything. Prices are going up as well.  

Fortunately, we saw this coming and we started ordering larger quantities and restocking earlier as far back as last summer. And because we have been closed to instore shopping for five of the last six months, this means, that we are massively overstocked. So much so, that we don’t even have samples of all the reproduction items we have in stock at The Barn. There is no room left, so when new shipments arrive, most items are just going straight to storage at this point. In the short term it’s all good news, tons to choose from, and no major price changes. 

The long run is a different story. All furniture factories are working at maximum capacity right now. So, if you want to order something the wait times are quite long. We have already ordered some items that aren’t scheduled to arrive until next year.

Eventually, we will reopen and start to push through our backlog and begin to run out of certain items. Some items always sell faster than expected, the difficult part is predicting what those items will be. We will do our best to keep all our best sellers in stock, but that will probably not be possible given the current business climate.

In addition, the cost of shipping has increased tremendously over the course of the pandemic due to higher demand, container shortages, port congestion, and covid restrictions.

The cost of raw materials like wood, metal, and glass are all up substantially. I don’t know of a single manufacturer that hasn’t had to increase their prices due to the increased cost of raw materials. While there is lag time, those increases will eventually be passed on to consumers.

Some products we may not even continue to carry if the price increases are too extreme. For example, we know the price of the Tiffany style lamps we carry will be going up, due to the increase in raw material prices. We just don’t yet know if the increase will make continuing to carry them possible. Should the current trend of the strengthening Canadian dollar continue that will offset some of the increases on imported items. But things are changing quickly and it’s impossible to predict exactly how this will unfold.

What all this means is that the best time to see the greatest variety of products and get the lowest prices on the reproduction items we carry is when we reopen, and for the rest of the summer. Once we get into autumn, there will unfortunately be some price increases. And the supply chain disruptions will inevitably lead to shortages of certain products.

We just wanted to warn everyone of what was coming because we know customers often look at items for a long time before they decided to purchase. Under normal circumstances we regularly have customers who come in to get an item that is temporarily sold out or permanently discontinued, and are disappointed. And the current circumstances are far from normal, and much more challenging. It’s not all bad news, our current supply is tremendous.

This is of course our first pandemic, but we’ve seen many major market shifts over the years, and they inevitably lead to new suppliers and new products. Who knows, the increased shipping costs and environmental realities might shift some manufacturing back to Canada, which would be fantastic. 

If you had taken a snapshot of The Barn ten years ago and compared it to one today, you would see a lot of the same products, and tons of new lines as well. Things are always changing, and yet some things remain unchanged.