Local furniture industry hit by supply-chain issues stemming from pandemic, winter storms
The February storm in Texas compounded the issue of backlogged furniture, which began as factories and manufacturing plants closed because of the virus
Micheline Stone, owner of Denver-based Creative Living, planned to open her Frisco location in February. But due to pandemic-related issues with manufacturing and shipping — plus the February winter storm that halted many operations in Texas — the shop opened three months later and still isn’t completely outfitted.
Virtually every industry has been impacted by supply-chain issues. Early last year, the pandemic forced many businesses to send employees home or reduce the number of staff members working in person. Now as activity picks back up, manufacturers are struggling to meet demands, and prices for goods are steadily increasing.
Shortages have been seen with automobile chips and more recently with the restaurant industry’s struggle to acquire basics like oat milk and chicken wings. Furniture stores are just another industry facing supply-chain issues.
Stone opened Creative Living in Denver in 2011 and began setting her sights on Summit County. She targeted a February opening date, but because of manufacturing stalls and shipping delays, she’s still putting the finishing touches on her store and waiting for the rest of her inventory to come in.
“It took longer than anticipated to actually open our doors, and we are still not fully stocked with what we originally ordered and intended for our opening,” Stone said. “For our Denver location, we’ve been running into more delivery and stock issues … slower delivery times, lack of product due to supply-chain resources — just whether it be raw materials or fabrication — and COVID-related issues in the factories. Any number of things just compounded and disrupted delivery of product and (the) supply chain.”
Stone said she began ordering merchandise for her Frisco location in January. The store didn’t open officially until May 1, and it’ll be July 4 before she expects all of the inventory to be in stores.
To bridge the gap, Stone said she’s been transferring goods from Denver to Frisco to keep her new shop up and running.
“We’ve just been receiving vendor notifications (that) this is delayed in shipping, this is delayed further, this is out of stock,” Stone said. “We do have things in the store, but trying to furnish it out, being a new store, we’re pulling stuff from our Denver location to fill the space at the time being rather than having things readily delivered and available there at all times.”
Stone’s business isn’t the only furniture store in town experiencing issues like these. The owners of Lilli’s Lighting and Decor and iFurnish are also experiencing similar backlogs.
Denise Williams Roberts, owner of Lilli’s, said the winter storms that occurred in the south, and especially in Texas, have had major impacts on the furniture industry. Williams Roberts explained that there are only so many plants that can make what’s needed for the foam that goes into cushions for chairs and couches. When the February storm forced factories to halt production, it caused a severe delay in making the foam, thus creating longer lead times for manufacturers to assemble various pieces.
“At the beginning of the pandemic, when customers shifted from spending their money on services to products, that’s when we saw the increase in purchasing,” Williams Roberts said. “People started redecorating. So there was already starting to be a strain on that foam production to begin with. When we had the emergency and they shut everything down, that’s really what caused the kind of catastrophic lead times that we’re now seeing for furniture.”
Williams Roberts said eight to 12 weeks was a fairly standard lead time for manufacturers to make various pieces. Now those same manufacturers are experiencing 26- to 32-week lead times.
Williams Roberts said she has five warehouses where she keeps inventory, so she never had an issue keeping her store stocked. She said her warehouses were just starting to empty. Luckily, the merchandise she ordered in September and October is now starting to arrive.
Over at iFurnish, co-owner Kelly Pestello said early planning saved her store. As soon as iFurnish reopened after the shutdown, Pestello she and her husband and co-owner, Tony, began ordering inventory immediately.
“It was just seeing the writing on the wall and (that) people want to buy furniture, and factories can’t make it fast enough, so we’d better start getting stuff on order,” Pestello said.
Both Pestello and Williams Roberts said it’s likely that these backlogs will continue well into 2022. In the meantime, Williams Roberts said consumers should jump on a product if they see something they like that’s currently available.
“If you see it and you like it, get it,” Williams Roberts said.
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