For most people, thoughts of Christmas start right around this time of year.
But for local toy store owners, the holiday season began back in the spring as they placed orders several months in advance to stay ahead of worldwide supply chain delays.
The problem began with the pandemic.
“Within three months I was having a hard time getting a puzzle in; nobody was working, factories were closed down,” Leapin’ Lizards Toy Co. owner Suzy Reininger said.
This year, the problem persists as demand for popular toys like Lego products, the Shashibo cube, Spooner Boards and more have seen an increase.
“A lot of my Calico Critters, a lot of my novelty items, puzzles, are on back order, and about $35,000 when I would normally have about $5,000 on back order,” Reininger said. “With Lego, instead of doing a $3,000 order, I’m doing $6,000, and hoping $3,000 shows up.”
Letty Lees, who owns Learning Express Toys in Bend, said the delays have been extreme.
“In past years you could order in September and get it within two to three weeks,” she said. “We ordered back in May and June and are getting it now.”
The reasons for delays are extensive.
“It’s the number of boats out in the water, that aren’t being able to be unloaded as quickly as they were in the past,” Lees said. “There’s not enough truck drivers, there’s not enough people in the warehouses making the product. The whole supply chain has been affected and there’s not any one reason why any one product can’t make it to market.”
This year, stores knew to plan ahead.
“Thankfully my toy reps have been great, they called us and really encouraged us to get our orders in in June and July, and we’re seeing the fruits of that,” Reininger said.
“We’re finally getting items in, and we’re actually fully stocked for the holidays right now.”
“We have planned ahead, we’re in good shape,” Lees said. “We’re looking forward to the holidays and we hope we’ve ordered correctly.”
Still, it’s not certain there will be enough toys to go around.
“It’s not something I would normally encourage but I would say if you see it on the shelf, no matter where you are, to go ahead and purchase it now because you can’t be guaranteed it’s going to be back in next month or in December,” Reininger said.
“Shop early, shop local,” Lees added. “If you see the item your child wants, buy it as soon as you can because it may not be there in a month.”