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Shipping delays impacting everything from Christmas toys to snowmachine helmets in Anchorage

Plastic for face shields in helmets is one of the many items Anchorage stores are having...
Plastic for face shields in helmets is one of the many items Anchorage stores are having trouble stocking due to global shipping delays.(KTUU)
Published: Oct. 21, 2021 at 4:13 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - On Wednesday morning, Dena Helton was on the hunt for Christmas presents for her grandson. She stopped by Classic Toys off Benson Boulevard and hunted through the shelves, just past the Lego sets, beyond wooden trains and marbles for the toy that’s eluded her for months.

“I’m looking for a toy gun, which is a little difficult to find now,” Helton said.

She left with books instead, which she’ll ship Outside to her daughter who’ll hide the presents until Christmas. She started shopping for the holiday this past summer when supply chain delays began impacting what was available to buy.

“Well if you’ve been inside the other stores the shelves are empty,” Helton said.

Shipping delays are a problem across the country. After two years of pandemic buying online and a strain on global supply chains, customers and shop owners are finding their goods being delivered months after being ordered.

In a text, Jim Jansen, the chairman of the shipping company Lynden, said that almost every Alaska industry and business has been impacted by supply issues and delays in shipping.

“Although the shortages and delays are spotty, a single component such as a silicon chip can stop an entire project,” Jansen wrote. “While basic goods like food and other daily consumables are generally available, other items are often unavailable or very expensive. Cargo from the Lower-48 to Alaska is moving reliably, once it becomes available for shipping.”

Still, Jarratt and other shop owners say their suppliers are months behind schedule.

“We’ve got probably an entire store on backorder and we’re, I don’t now, it’s 50-50 whether we get it all in or not,” said Ben Jarratt, the owner of Classic Toys, about merchandise making it to his store by Christmas.

He says on a typical year, the store would have about 75% more toys than it does now.

“Normally we put in Christmas orders in September timeline,” Jarratt said. “This year we were putting them in June and July. But still it’s on backorder. We have backorders that are from January, so it’s not just recent, it goes way back.”

Even now Jarratt says he usually has three shelves of Brio toys, but it’s been reduced to half a shelf and he doesn’t know when more of the popular wooden toy trains and building kits will be replaced.

“We can’t get any right now,” Jarratt said.

The pandemic has also impacted stores in Alaska in odd ways. If someone needs to fix a snowmachine or motorcycle helmet, they will most likely find an issue replacing certain parts.

“Face shields for helmets, people are like ‘why can’t I get a new visor for my helmet?’” said Bonnie Welsh with Alaska Leather. “Well, if you think about where you see plastic every night on the news, doctors and nurses are wearing plastic face shields in the hospitals. Therefore we can’t get plastic to have face shields for helmets. They were on backorder for the entire summer.”

Welsh says she’s been setting some items aside for customers and she suggests people buy what they need when they see it.

“Normally a vendor is not four months late with an order,” Welsh said. “Normally you would see just a couple of weeks lag time.”

Jarratt says Christmas is a make or break time for his toy stores. He says he’s constantly calling his suppliers and searching for a new ways to stock his shelves with toys.

Asked what else he can do to stock the shelves Jarratt replied:

“Hope. Pray.”

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