Cans, Guns and Salad Dressing: Supply Chain Issues Persist Locally

Demand: Global Issues Exacerbated by COVID-19


Global supply chain issues exacerbated by COVID-19 mean businesses are still struggling to get their hands on products. Recent headlines relay sputtering production impacting everything from automobiles to fast-food chicken.

Locally, the continued — and in some cases worsened — supply issues are coming in the form of hard-to-get ammunition, canning supplies and dessert toppings, business owners report.

Sweet Inspirations owner Patty Harris told The Chronicle Tuesday that it’s “weird odds and ends items” that the restaurant is having a hard time securing — things like dressings and toppings.

While the Chehalis restaurant hasn’t had any employees contract COVID-19, Harris said, it was infections elsewhere that impacted business: A major outbreak at Centralia’s UNFI grocery distributor closed the facility for about a week last month.

The warehouse services 825 grocery stores in the region, including those Sweet Inspirations relied on. Harris and her husband have since started shopping elsewhere.

When asked if Anderson’s True Value is seeing the impacts of supply chain issues, Greg Anderson gave a resounding “absolutely.”

“I mean, anybody in retail is coming across shortages, and you don’t know what they’re going to be,” he said this week.

While placing orders, Anderson has swapped some items with different brands of packages of different quantities to keep the shelves full. But still, he’s had to turn some customers away. Products such as canning supplies and propane have simply been tough to find.

A case of canning lids arrived a few weeks ago, and he doesn’t expect more for another few weeks.

It’s bad news in the middle of canning season.

Some issues with paint supply, Anderson noted, were unrelated to COVID, instead due to the unprecedented cold that froze a Texas manufacturer last winter.

Down the street at East County Guns on South Tower Avenue, a staffer identified as Sara told The Chronicle that some items are getting back to normal levels, “but are we at pre-pandemic levels? No.”

While some firearms are getting back in stock, the store still can’t get its hands on many revolvers. That, paired with a short supply of ammunition, has impacted the business.

“It sucks to have to tell people all day long, ‘no, we don’t have enough of this or that,’” Sara said.

More customers unable to find their preferred guns are trying to build their own with parts sold at East County Guns, although the store is less likely to be able to secure top-notch parts these days.

Increased ammo costs, Sara noted, could also persist if the newest wave of gun owners — who have only known pandemic costs — signal a willingness to continue paying.

Back in Chehalis, Dairy Bar staff reported that dairy products are arriving just fine, but other food products are in short supply, with the issue getting worse in recent weeks. The mom and pop burger and shake joint hasn’t had to remove any menu items, although that could change if shortages persist.

Meanwhile, Dairy Bar’s corporate cousin hasn’t been so lucky. Centralia’s Dairy Queen recently had to limit its hours and menu due to supplier limitations.